Gambling is the betting or staking of something of value, such as money, on an event with a certain degree of uncertainty and the hope of winning a prize. Examples of gambling include lotteries, games of chance such as dice, keno or roulette, cards, scratch-off tickets, racetracks, animal tracks, bingo and slot machines. It is a popular pastime in most cultures and the most common form of recreation. Approximately two million people in the United States have a problem with gambling, and many of them are unable to control their behavior.
The psychological and social consequences of problematic gambling are widespread. Problem gamblers often experience depression, anxiety and loneliness. They may also have difficulty maintaining relationships and employment. They frequently lie to family members and therapists in an attempt to conceal their gambling activity, and may even commit illegal acts in order to fund their addiction. In extreme cases, problem gamblers can be compelled to steal and embezzle.
According to the American Psychiatric Association (APA), there are certain criteria that must be met for someone to be diagnosed with pathological gambling (PG). These criteria include: Having an urge to place bets, wagers or investments in any situation that presents some level of risk and an expectation of gain; having a preoccupation with gambling; continuing to gamble despite serious negative effects; and spending more than expected on gambling activities. Those who suffer from PG typically begin gambling in adolescence or young adulthood, and the condition worsens over time.
Research is limited, but the most comprehensive study to date was published in 2000 by a group of researchers at the University of Maryland. The authors of this longitudinal study analyzed data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) for the years 1992 to 1998. The study found that compared to nongamblers, those with a gambling disorder were more likely to have poorer health outcomes, including lower educational achievement and income levels. In addition, those with a gambling disorder were more than twice as likely to have attempted suicide.
Recognizing that you have a gambling problem is the first step to recovery. Then, take action: get help, and try to avoid gambling venues. If you are still tempted, only gamble with disposable income and never with money that needs to be saved for bills or rent. Finally, find other ways to socialise and relax. A good therapist can help you understand the root causes of your gambling behavior and teach you how to handle stress in healthy ways. Use a reputable online therapy service to be matched with a qualified and licensed therapist in as little as 48 hours. Try it free today!.