Gambling involves placing something of value, usually money, on an event whose outcome is determined at least in part by chance. It can also be conducted using things that have a material value but are not real money, such as marbles or collectable game pieces (like pogs or Magic: The Gathering).
Many people gamble for the thrill of winning and to socialise with friends. However, if you find yourself gambling more than you can afford to lose, or are struggling to control your behaviour and feel stressed and anxious, it’s important to seek help.
The US Food and Drug Administration doesn’t approve any medications to treat gambling disorders, but psychotherapy can be helpful. This is a type of treatment that takes place with a mental health professional, such as a psychiatrist or psychologist, and aims to change unhealthy emotions, thoughts and behaviours.
Changing the way you think about gambling can help you stop it. For example, you could learn to see it as an expense like any other – rather than an investment, and set budgets. You can also try to reduce your stress levels and distract yourself with hobbies or activities.
People who have serious gambling problems often need specialist support, such as an inpatient or residential programme. You can also ask for help from family and friends or find a peer support group, such as Gamblers Anonymous, which is modelled on Alcoholics Anonymous.