Gambling occurs when a person stakes something of value, such as money or goods, for the chance to win a prize. The risk can range from losing a small amount to a life-changing jackpot. People can gamble in casinos, at racetracks, at sporting events or online.
Some people develop a gambling addiction that becomes problematic. This is called pathological gambling (PG). PG is a psychological disorder that is classified in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. PG usually starts in adolescence or early adulthood and is more prevalent in men than women. People with low incomes are also more vulnerable to PG.
The financial costs of a gambling addiction can be high, both for individuals and society. The cost to the individual may include criminal activity, bankruptcy and lost employment, while family members and employers may experience losses through embezzlement or lowered productivity. Gambling can also exacerbate existing mental health problems.
If you have a problem with gambling, it is important to seek help. The first step is realising you have a gambling issue, which can be difficult if you have a strong attachment to the game and have spent a lot of time hiding or minimising it. There are a range of treatment options, from counselling to peer support groups like Gamblers Anonymous. It is also a good idea to strengthen your support network and find ways to make new friends that don’t involve visiting casinos or gambling websites.