How Gambling Disorders Can Affect Your Life


Gambling is a form of entertainment in which people risk money or something else of value on the outcome of a game of chance, such as a scratch card, fruit machine or horse race. It can be a fun pastime, but it can also become an addiction and cause serious problems.

People can gamble on anything from lottery tickets to poker and roulette. It is estimated that worldwide, legal gambling revenue is more than $10 trillion a year (illegal betting may be even higher). While most people who gamble do so without problems, a small number develop gambling disorder, which is a serious mental health condition. This can lead to financial ruin, strain family and work relationships, and cause other serious problems.

It is possible to increase your chances of winning at gambling by playing games with the least house edge, learning betting strategies and knowing when to walk away. It is also a good idea to only gamble with money that you can afford to lose. Never use money that you need to pay bills or rent, and never try to chase your losses – this will almost always lead to further losses.

The reasons why some people are more vulnerable to gambling than others are unclear, but it is likely that some individuals have a tendency to take risks and enjoy novelty or variety. Theories such as Zuckerman’s “sensation-seeking” model and Cloninger’s hierarchy of needs suggest that the desire for arousal can drive some gambling behaviors.

While most gamblers do not experience a problem, those who do can face severe consequences for themselves and their families. Some people lose not only their money but their jobs, homes and friendships as well. If you think you or someone you know has a gambling problem, it is important to seek help as soon as possible.

There are a number of ways to get support for a gambling problem, including cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). CBT looks at the beliefs that underlie problematic gambling behaviour, such as the belief that you are more likely to win than you actually are and the belief that certain rituals can bring luck. It can also help to address any underlying issues that have contributed to the gambling disorder, such as depression or anxiety.

Those with gambling disorders can often feel isolated and ashamed, so they will tend to hide their gambling habits from family and friends. It is also important to talk about the issue with a trusted person who will not judge you, such as a counsellor. It is also helpful to reduce the temptation by avoiding gambling venues and limiting access to credit cards and other forms of debt. Lastly, find an alternative recreational activity or hobby to replace gambling. This can help you to reduce your stress levels and give you a sense of achievement when you have overcome a difficult challenge. You can also seek family, marriage and career counselling to help you rebuild your life if your gambling is affecting those around you.