Gambling involves risking something of value (such as money) on a random event with the intent to win a prize. It can involve any game involving chance, including scratchcards and fruit machines, betting on horse races and football accumulators, lottery tickets, and games like poker or baccarat. It can also involve speculating on business, insurance or stock markets.
The act of gambling can have serious consequences for health, relationships and work performance, as well as lead to debt and even homelessness. It is therefore important to recognise and address the symptoms of gambling addiction.
There are a number of things that can help reduce the likelihood of developing a gambling problem, such as avoiding casinos, setting money and time limits for play, and limiting the amount of money you spend on entertainment (for example, never gamble with money you need to pay your bills or rent). However, underlying mood disorders can make gambling a compulsive behaviour, so it is also important to seek therapy and explore healthier ways to relieve unpleasant feelings and boredom.
The biggest step in overcoming any addiction is admitting you have a problem. It can take tremendous courage, especially when it’s accompanied by financial hardship and strained or broken relationships, but many people have successfully overcome gambling addiction and rebuilt their lives. For severe cases, there are inpatient or residential treatment and rehab programmes available. These may be a good option for someone who is unable to avoid gambling on their own, but needs round-the-clock support.