Gambling involves betting something of value on an event that is based on chance or randomness and where the chances of winning are less than 50%. It does not include business transactions based on the law of contracts (such as buying insurance), investments in shares or property and sports betting (where strategy is discounted).
People gamble for many reasons, such as the thrill of the adrenaline rush, socialising with friends, changing their mood or dreaming of a jackpot win. Regardless of the reason, people can become addicted to gambling and it can have a serious impact on their lives, including harming their physical health, relationships, performance at work or study, and leaving them in debt and homelessness.
If someone you know has a gambling problem, it’s important to understand how the condition affects their mental health and how they can get help. It’s also important to talk to them about how their behaviour is affecting you, so that you can be a source of support and encouragement.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration hasn’t approved any medications to treat gambling disorder, but psychotherapy can be useful. This is a group or individual therapy session with a mental health professional that aims to identify and change unhealthy emotions, thoughts and behaviours. It may involve talking therapies such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) or family, marriage or career counselling. There are also peer support groups such as Gamblers Anonymous that can be helpful for some people.