Gambling Disorders

Gambling involves placing something of value (usually money) on an event that is based on chance and has the potential to yield a greater prize. Examples of gambling include betting on football matches, lotteries, scratch cards, keno, roulette, poker, and slots (in casinos, at race tracks, or online). The amount of money legally wagered worldwide is estimated to be over $10 trillion a year.

Problem gambling can have serious consequences. It can strain relationships, interfere with work, and lead to financial disaster. It can even trigger thoughts of suicide. If you are having suicidal thoughts, call 999 or go to A&E immediately.

If you have a mental health issue, gambling may be a way of self-soothing unpleasant feelings or escaping reality. It’s important to find healthier ways of relieving boredom and stress, such as exercise, spending time with non-gambling friends, or taking up a new hobby.

You have a gambling disorder if you:

– feel the need to increase your wagers to maintain your excitement levels; – continue to gamble despite having made repeated unsuccessful efforts to control your gambling; – are restless or irritable when trying to stop or reduce your gambling; – lie to family members, therapists, or others to conceal how much time and money you spend on gambling; – commit illegal acts to finance your gambling; or – jeopardize a relationship, job, or education opportunity because of gambling (American Psychiatric Association, 2000).

Therapy can help you learn to cope with your addiction. Treatment options may include cognitive-behavioral therapy, which focuses on changing unhealthy thinking and behaviors related to gambling. You may also receive treatment for any underlying mood disorders that contribute to your gambling, such as depression or anxiety.

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