Gambling is when you risk something of value, such as money or something else with a high emotional or psychological value, on an event whose outcome is uncertain. It can involve either skill-based or chance-based gambling. Skill-based gambling involves techniques and tactics that can sway the odds in your favour, such as a game of blackjack or sports betting. Chance-based gambling, such as a lottery ticket or a scratchcard, is all down to luck and randomness, so you can’t control the outcome.
It’s important to remember that gambling is not always safe and that you can end up losing more than you intended. It’s also possible to be addicted to gambling, and if you have a problem you should seek professional help as soon as you can. This can include therapy, such as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), or medication, such as antidepressants. There are also specialist services, such as debt charities, StepChange, which can provide free and confidential support to those struggling with problem gambling.
Gambling can be addictive and can affect your health, wellbeing, family life and work performance. There is a link between problem gambling and depression, as well as suicide, so it’s important to get help if you are having thoughts of self-harm or suicidal feelings. If you have these thoughts, call 999 or visit A&E straight away.
People may gamble for a variety of reasons, from relaxing to socialising with friends to improving their income and prospects. But it’s important to gamble responsibly, and never with money that you can’t afford to lose. It’s also important to be aware of any negative effects that can result from gambling, such as a deterioration in personal relationships and increased financial distress.
Some people are at a higher risk of developing a gambling addiction. These include people who have had troubled childhoods, people with a history of mental illness, and those who start gambling in their teenage years. Adolescents who develop gambling problems can often exhibit a range of adverse consequences, such as poor school and work performances, credit problems, and alienation from family and friends.
While there are many ways to deal with gambling addiction, the best way is to seek help from a trained therapist. CBT can help you understand the thoughts and beliefs that lead to your gambling, and teach you coping skills to stop you from gambling when you should be doing something else. In addition, you can learn more about healthier ways to relieve unpleasant emotions, such as exercising, spending time with friends who don’t gamble, or practicing relaxation techniques.
In severe cases, you might need inpatient or residential treatment and rehabilitation programmes to help you overcome your gambling addiction. However, this only applies to those who have severe problems and cannot manage them on their own without round-the-clock support. In these situations, it’s also good to seek advice from debt charities, such as StepChange, who can help you to manage your finances and avoid further escalation of your gambling behaviour.