Gambling involves risking something of value (money, goods or services) on an event whose outcome is determined by chance. The event could be a football match, a scratchcard or even a lottery draw. If you predict the outcome correctly, you win money. If you lose, you lose the money you gambled.
Some people have a predisposition for gambling problems, influenced by genetics and coexisting mental health conditions. Other people are attracted to gambling by the rewards it offers. When a person gambles, their body releases a chemical called dopamine that makes them feel happy. This reward is similar to the one they get from spending time with a friend, eating a meal or having fun in other healthy activities.
People with pathological gambling (PG) have recurrent and persistent maladaptive patterns of gambling behaviors that negatively affect their lives. PG usually starts in adolescence or young adulthood and continues to progress over time. PG is more common in men than in women and tends to affect younger people.
To reduce the risks associated with gambling, only gamble with money you can afford to lose and make sure that it doesn’t interfere with or take the place of work, school or socialising. Also, set a limit on how long you want to gamble and stick to it. It is easy to lose track of time when you are gambling, especially at casinos that don’t have clocks or windows. To help, try setting an alarm on your phone to remind you when your time is up.