Gambling is the act of putting something of value, often money, on an event with an element of randomness or chance with the aim of winning. It is an activity which has been practised throughout history and it has many forms such as games of chance like cards, fruit machines, video-draw poker machines, slot machines or two-up, and betting on events including horse and greyhound races, football accumulators, elections and other sporting events, instant scratch cards, raffles and bingo. It can also include speculating on business, insurance or stock markets.
Gambling may be a way to self-soothe unpleasant feelings or to unwind, but it can become an addiction. This is referred to as pathological gambling (PG), and it is estimated that 0.4-1.6% of Americans meet criteria for a diagnosis of PG. Unlike other impulse control disorders such as kleptomania or trichotillomania, which are regarded as compulsions rather than addictions, PG is classified as an addictive disorder in the latest edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5).
Psychiatry has long recognized the potential for problem gambling as a mental health issue. It was a popular pastime for the ancients and evidence of it exists in the form of carved writings or equipment found on tombs. The ancients believed that gambling could determine fate, and a game’s outcome was said to reflect divine wisdom. It was only a short step from divination to wagering on the outcomes of a game.
There are a number of different approaches to gambling addiction treatment, and it is important that you seek help if you believe you have a problem. These treatments can include cognitive behavioral therapy, psychoeducation, and community support groups such as Gamblers Anonymous. Some people find it helpful to work with a sponsor, a former gambler who has experience staying free from the activity.
In addition to the psychological treatment options, there are also a number of pharmacological treatments for gambling addiction. These medications are typically sedating and help to reduce the desire to gamble. However, it is crucial to note that these drugs are not a substitute for the more intensive psychosocial treatment programs described above.
If you are worried about your gambling habits, talk to one of our counsellors today. We are available 24/7 to offer advice and support. We can help you get back on track and rebuild your life. It’s free and confidential. Just call our hotline or chat with us online. You’ll be glad you did. “You never know when you’ll hit the jackpot / But you can bet your bottom dollar there’ll be no countin’ when it’s goin’ down.” – Benjamin Siegel, American gangster. This is a famous quote from the movie Rounders and highlights the risk of gambling. You should only ever bet what you can afford to lose and remember that your wins are never as satisfying as your losses. That’s why it’s important to gamble responsibly. For more information about Gambling, visit our website.