Gambling is a form of risk-taking in which a person places something of value (usually money) on an event with a chance of winning a higher amount. It can be done in many ways, including betting on sports events, cards, lottery tickets, scratchcards, online games, bingo, and slot machines. People gamble for a number of reasons, including the thrill of winning, socialising with others, or escaping from worries and stress. However, gambling can become a problem if it causes someone to lose control of their finances and disrupts their life in other ways. The biggest step to recovering from gambling disorder is recognising that there is a problem, especially if it has caused financial ruin and strained relationships. This can take tremendous strength, but help is available.
There is a strong link between mental health problems and harmful gambling. Those with depression or anxiety are particularly at risk, as are people who have been bereaved or stressed by a recent financial crisis. People with low incomes are also more likely to have a gambling problem, as they have less to lose and more to gain from a large win. Young people are more susceptible to developing a gambling disorder than older adults.
Problem gambling can be treated using cognitive behavioural therapy, which helps someone examine their thoughts and beliefs about gambling. These beliefs may include the false belief that they are more likely to win than their odds suggest, that certain rituals will bring them luck, or that they can recoup losses by gambling more.