Gambling is a popular pastime and can provide an adrenaline rush when things go well. But it can also be dangerous. Whether it’s buying a Lotto ticket or playing the pokies, most people gamble at some point in their lives. It’s important to understand how gambling works so you can make informed decisions and avoid problems.
In the past, the psychiatric community classified pathological gambling as a compulsive behavior, along with kleptomania (stealing), pyromania (setting things on fire) and trichotillomania (hair pulling). But this year, in what has been widely hailed as a landmark decision, the American Psychiatric Association moved the disorder to a new section of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders devoted to impulse-control disorders. The move reflects the growing understanding that gambling is an addiction, similar to substance-related disorders in clinical expression, brain origin, comorbidity and physiology.
Many people who have trouble with gambling do so because they are also struggling with depression or other mood disorders, such as anxiety or stress. In fact, studies have shown that people who have these types of conditions are more likely to become addicted to gambling. It is important to seek treatment for these underlying issues to help prevent and treat gambling problems.
There are four main reasons why people gamble: for social or entertainment purposes, to relieve boredom, to escape from negative feelings and to feel a rush or high. It’s important to find healthier ways of relieving unpleasant emotions, such as exercising, spending time with friends who don’t gamble or taking up a new hobby.
If you have a problem with gambling, it’s important to seek treatment for it as soon as possible. A doctor can prescribe medications, talk therapy and other techniques that may help you overcome your urges to gamble. It’s also important to address any underlying issues that can trigger or make the problem worse, such as mood disorders or financial issues.
One of the most effective ways to control your gambling is to set a budget for yourself before you start. This will ensure that you don’t spend more than you can afford to lose. Also, never gamble with credit cards and make sure to keep only a small amount of cash on you at all times.
Lastly, it’s important to have a support network. If you’re struggling with a gambling addiction, try reaching out to family and friends or joining a peer support group like Gamblers Anonymous. You may even want to consider getting a therapist or enrolling in a program such as cognitive-behavioral therapy, which can teach you to resist unwanted thoughts and behaviors.