Whether it’s buying a lottery ticket, playing video poker or a slot machine, gambling is an activity that involves placing something of value on an event with a chance to win more money or another prize. It’s a form of risky entertainment that can lead to trouble if it becomes an addiction.
Pathological gambling (PG) is an addictive behavior that can be characterized by maladaptive patterns of thinking and behaviors. PG usually starts in adolescence or early adulthood and develops into a full-blown problem several years later. Men are more likely to develop PG, and they tend to start earlier in their lives than women do. They also appear to be more affected by strategic and more interpersonally interactive forms of gambling, such as blackjack or poker, than women are.
If you have a gambling addiction, there are many different treatments available. Cognitive-behavioral therapy can help you change unhealthy gambling habits and thoughts, and teach you strategies to stop the urges that lead to problem gambling. This treatment can also help you resolve family, work, and relationship problems caused by gambling.
Identifying a gambling problem is the first step to recovery. It’s important to remember that you’re not alone—many people have a gambling problem and have successfully recovered from it. To get started, search for a therapist on Talkspace who is licensed, vetted, and has experience treating gambling addiction. And, if you’re struggling to pay your debts, StepChange can offer free, confidential advice.