Gambling is an activity where people risk something of value (money, property or possessions) on an event with a chance of winning. It can include card games, fruit machines, casino games and sports accumulators such as football and horse races. It can also involve lotteries, instant scratch cards and speculating on businesses, insurance and stocks.
Gambling can be fun and harmless in moderation, but for some people it becomes a problem that impacts their physical and mental health, relationships, performance at work or study and leads to serious debt and even homelessness. Problem gambling can affect the lives of family, friends and work colleagues too.
Research suggests that a combination of factors may contribute to the development of gambling addiction, including genetic predisposition, environmental triggers and low self-esteem. People with a history of depression or anxiety are at a greater risk for developing a gambling disorder, as they may use gambling as a way to avoid dealing with difficult emotions.
One of the most important steps in overcoming a gambling addiction is acknowledging that there is a problem. Admitting that you have a problem to someone else, such as a therapist or support group, can help you gain the courage to seek treatment. You can find a therapist by searching online or asking your insurance provider for a referral. Alternatively, you can join a gambling support group such as Gamblers Anonymous, which is based on the 12-step approach used by Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous.