Gambling involves placing a value on an event that is determined at least in part by chance, with the hope of winning something else of value. It can include playing slot machines, buying lottery tickets, bingo, sports betting and office pools. In addition to the obvious financial risks, gambling can also lead to depression and other mental health issues.
Although it is difficult to determine how many people have a problem with gambling, research suggests that as much as 4% of the population develops pathological gambling. In addition, there is high comorbidity between gambling disorder and other substance use disorders. The DSM-5 has classified gambling disorder as a psychiatric illness, and treatments are available.
It is important to understand the factors that contribute to the development and maintenance of gambling disorders, as well as how those factors influence treatment outcomes. Many of the current approaches to treating pathological gambling lack consistency in their conceptualizations and etiology, and they have shown only moderate effectiveness.
There are a number of reasons why some people develop problems with gambling, including genetic predisposition, underactive reward systems in the brain, and impulsivity. Other risk factors are environmental, such as poverty and social pressure to gamble, and personal beliefs about gambling that affect the odds of winning or losing. Some communities consider gambling a normal pastime, and this can make it harder to recognize a problem or seek help.
In some cases, people may start gambling to relieve unpleasant feelings, such as boredom, loneliness or stress. However, there are healthier and more effective ways to cope with these feelings, such as exercising, spending time with friends who do not gamble, or taking up new hobbies. Developing alternative ways to soothe these feelings can be challenging, but it is possible to overcome a problem with gambling.
Another common cause of gambling problems is the false belief that events/outcomes are more likely to occur if they have happened recently, or if they did not happen in the past. This is known as the Gambler’s Fallacy, and it can have a major impact on someone’s decision making. For example, if you have lost money on a slot machine, you may believe that you are due for a big win, and try to chase your losses.
It takes a lot of strength and courage to admit that you have a problem with gambling, especially if it has cost you a great deal of money or strained relationships. Getting professional help is essential to breaking the habit, and there are many ways to get started. Whether you need family or marriage counseling, career guidance, or credit assistance, there is a therapist who can help. If you are ready to break the cycle of gambling addiction, get matched with a therapist today. Therapy can be conducted online or in person, and is confidential.