Gambling is the act of risking something of value (money, or any other item of worth) on an event that is unpredictable or uncertain. The event is typically something that could be determined by chance, such as a football match or a scratchcard game. The bettor places his or her wagers on the outcome of such an event, and if they are correct, they win money. If they are wrong, they lose their stake.
People gamble for a variety of reasons, including the thrill of winning money, socialising or escaping worries and stress. However, for some it can become a serious problem. If you or a loved one are struggling with gambling, there is help available. You can get treatment, join support groups and try self-help tips to break the habit.
The first step is recognising that you have a problem, which can be difficult, especially if it’s cost you a lot of money or strained or broken relationships. However, many people have successfully overcome gambling addiction and rebuilt their lives. The biggest obstacle to breaking the habit is often mental, and cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) can be used to address underlying beliefs and triggers.
CBT can be especially effective for those who are tempted to gamble in high-risk situations, such as when watching TV or online. The therapist will work with the client to identify their triggers, understand their thoughts and feelings, and change their behaviour. This may involve learning new coping skills and replacing old negative beliefs with more realistic ones.
Changing the way you think can make a big difference to how you feel and how often you gamble. It can also be helpful to set boundaries and stick to them. For example, you should only gamble with disposable income and not money that needs to be saved or spent on bills. It’s also worth considering using a budgeting app or other money management tools to keep track of your spending and to stop you from going overboard.
Aside from the psychological and financial harm, gambling can have a profound effect on your health. It can lead to depression, anxiety and even substance abuse. It can also have a significant impact on your family and your relationship with them.
Longitudinal studies are rare in the gambling field, mainly because of financial and practical barriers. For example, it’s hard to find enough participants to carry out a multiyear study and there are issues with data collection, sample attrition and period effects (e.g., does gambling activity increase during a particular period because of a certain event or societal change). However, research is improving and more longitudinal studies are being carried out.