Gambling is risking something of value on an event that is determined at least in part by chance, with the hope of winning. It includes card games, dice, scratch-off tickets, video poker and bingo. Some people also consider social gambling, like playing a game for small amounts with friends or participating in a sports betting pool, to be a form of gambling.
While the behavior of gambling can be dangerous, there are resources available to help someone with a gambling disorder. Treatments may include counseling, group therapy and self-help programs for families like Gam-Anon. Counseling can help a person understand their problems and develop coping skills. Medications that reduce anxiety or depression can be helpful for some people. Symptoms of mood disorders can be made worse by compulsive gambling, and can also contribute to the development of harmful gambling behaviors.
When people gamble, their brains release dopamine, a neurotransmitter that causes feelings of pleasure and reward. This can make it hard for some people to stop gambling, even when it becomes a serious problem. People with a gambling addiction can become preoccupied with gambling and the desire to win, despite negative consequences for their lives and relationships.
Some people with a gambling disorder can overcome their problem on their own, but many need help. Seek advice from a counselor, and find ways to spend your time that don’t involve gambling. For example, you could try exercising, spending time with friends, or attending a support group like Gamblers Anonymous. You can also find financial help by getting rid of credit cards, placing someone else in charge of your money, or closing online betting accounts.