Gambling is the wagering of something of value on an event that has a random chance of outcome. Events can include games of chance, such as lotteries and races, or they can be activities where a skill factor is involved, such as sports betting. A person may be able to control his or her gambling by setting limits on how much money he or she can spend. Gambling can also affect a person’s relationships, work performance, and health. In addition, a gambling addiction can lead to debt and even homelessness. It is important to know the signs and symptoms of a gambling problem and how to seek treatment.
Gambling, along with drinking and drug abuse, is one of the most common forms of substance use disorders in America. In fact, four in five American adults have gambled at some point in their lives. In the past, the psychiatric community viewed pathological gambling as more of a compulsion than an addiction, but in what many have called a landmark decision, the American Psychiatric Association moved it to the Addictions chapter in its latest Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5).
The amount of money that is legally wagered annually in the world is estimated at $10 trillion, with most of it occurring in countries where it is legal to do so. The most popular form of gambling is betting on sports, with organized football pools in most European countries and state-licensed lotteries in most other parts of the world. In the United States, sports betting is a major industry that includes horse racing and other sporting events.
In addition to treating a gambling addiction, patients can practice healthy coping mechanisms to help them deal with unpleasant emotions and boredom without turning to gambling. They can try exercising, spending time with friends who don’t gamble, taking up new hobbies, and practicing relaxation techniques. They can also seek support from groups like Gamblers Anonymous, which is modeled after Alcoholics Anonymous.
A person can also develop a gambling problem by taking part in other activities that have a similar addictive potential, such as shopping and eating out. This is why it is important to avoid these types of activities, if possible, and to make sure that the person who has a gambling problem is not in charge of any of these activities, and that his or her finances are not at risk. This is best accomplished by establishing clear boundaries with family members and having someone in charge of managing money for the person who has a gambling problem. This may involve putting the person on a budget or allowing someone else to manage his or her credit. It can also include removing the person from any online betting sites and closing bank accounts and credit card accounts associated with gambling. Vigeo Eiris also analyzes the risks associated with 15 controversial activities, including alcohol, animal welfare, chemicals of concern, coal, tar sands and oil shale, military, nuclear power, gambling, tobacco, and medical marijuana.