Gambling involves wagering something of value on a random event with the hope of winning something else of value. It can take many forms, including lotteries, casino games, and even games of chance with marbles or collectible trading cards. While some people gamble to have fun, others struggle with gambling harm and seek professional help.
Gambling can cause a range of psychological and social problems, including stress, depression, anxiety and suicide. It can also affect work, relationships and health. Some people find that they gamble as a way to self-soothe unpleasant emotions, to unwind or to socialize, but there are healthier and more effective ways to do this, such as exercising, spending time with friends who don’t gamble, and practicing relaxation techniques.
Some people struggle with pathological gambling (PG), characterized by recurrent and maladaptive patterns of gambling behavior that interfere with their lives in multiple ways. PG often begins in adolescence or young adulthood and is more likely to occur in males than females. It is also more likely to occur in nonstrategic or “face-to-face” forms of gambling, such as lottery or bingo, than in strategic ones, such as poker or blackjack.
The biggest step in overcoming a problem with gambling is admitting that you have one. It takes strength and courage, especially if your gambling has caused you to lose money or strain relationships. However, there are many resources available to help you quit gambling, including treatment, support groups and self-help tips.