Gambling is a popular pastime in the United States, with four out of five Americans saying they have gambled. Whether it’s betting on a football game or scratchcard, the majority of people will have experienced gambling at some point in their lives. However, for some, this can become an addiction. Some studies have shown that there are around two million Americans who struggle with gambling problems and, for some, this can seriously interfere with their lives.
A key issue is that the odds on a particular bet are determined by chance, so it’s impossible to predict what you will win or lose. As a result, the more money you put in, the higher your chances of winning, but also the more likely you are to lose all of your winnings. This is why it’s important to know your limits, and not to spend more than you can afford to lose.
In order to place a bet you need to register with a casino or online gambling site and create an account. Once you have done this, you need to deposit some real cash into your account using a credit or debit card (if you’re gambling for real money).
You then select what you want to bet on, which could be a football match or a specific scratchcard. You then select a number between 1 and 100 or more, which will determine how much you can win if you are lucky. The odds are based on a combination of things, including the number of other people placing bets and their previous results.
The reason why so many people are addicted to gambling is that it gives them a rush of dopamine when they win, but this can quickly lead to other problems, such as debt. If you feel like your gambling is out of control, it’s important to talk to someone. You can do this by speaking to a friend, family member or even getting non-judgemental support from the GamCare helpline.
Another issue is that many people use gambling as a distraction from difficult thoughts or feelings, but this can often make matters worse in the long run. Whether you’re feeling depressed, angry or upset, it’s best to find an alternative activity and avoid gambling until you’ve dealt with the problem.
In the past, the psychiatric community has generally regarded pathological gambling as more of a compulsion than an addiction, but in the latest edition of its Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, the American Psychiatric Association moved pathological gambling into the ‘Addictions’ chapter alongside kleptomania, pyromania and trichotillomania (hair-pulling). Treatment for gambling addictions is usually similar to other addictions and includes cognitive behavioural therapy. This teaches you to challenge irrational beliefs such as the belief that a string of losses will soon turn into a win, or that certain rituals will bring luck. You’ll also learn to recognize the warning signs and how to deal with them. If you are in financial difficulty, speak to StepChange for free debt advice.