The act of betting something of value, with consciousness of risk and hope of gain, on an uncertain outcome involving chance or skill. This includes activities such as sports and games, but also events like the lottery or bingo. Unlike other forms of recreation, gambling involves the wagering of something of value and usually requires three elements: consideration, risk, and a prize.
Many people have the ability to control their impulses and not gamble beyond their means, but some individuals are genetically predisposed for thrill-seeking behaviours and impulsivity. The environment and community in which individuals live may also influence their participation in gambling activity. Some communities consider gambling as a normal pastime and can make it difficult for someone to recognize that they have a problem.
Some individuals develop a pathological gambling (PG) pattern of maladaptive behavior, characterized by recurrent and persistent lapses into gambling and related activities. PG typically starts in adolescence or young adulthood and affects men and women at similar rates, although the type of gambling differs between genders. Male PG is more often associated with strategic gambling, while female PG tends to involve nonstrategic and less interpersonally interactive activities such as slot machines.
Getting help for a gambling addiction is challenging, but it is possible to recover and reclaim your life. The biggest step is admitting that you have a problem, but maintaining recovery is also possible by surrounding yourself with supportive people, setting accountability targets, avoiding tempting environments and websites, establishing healthy financial boundaries, incorporating healthier activities into your schedule, and practicing self-care.