Gambling is when you risk something of value (usually money) in an attempt to predict the outcome of a game or event involving chance, like betting on a football match or scratchcard. There are many ways to gamble, including in casinos, online, or with lotteries. You can also place bets on a variety of events, such as horse races or boxing matches, through bookmakers.
While most adults and adolescents in the US have placed a bet, only a small proportion of these individuals develop gambling disorder, which is defined in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders as a persistent and recurrent pattern of gambling behavior that causes significant distress or impairment in your daily functioning. Most of these individuals are men, and those with lower incomes are more susceptible to developing the problem.
Although there are no FDA-approved medications to treat gambling disorders, treatment options can include family therapy and counseling that focuses on changing unhealthy patterns of behavior and thinking. Counseling may be particularly helpful for people with coexisting mood disorders, such as depression or anxiety, which can trigger or worsen compulsive gambling.
If you think someone you know is struggling with gambling, have a heart-to-heart conversation with them about it. You can also find out about the most effective treatments available for this condition and encourage them to get help. For example, cognitive-behavioral therapy for gambling addiction teaches you how to identify and challenge irrational thoughts that can cause or worsen the urge to gamble.