Gambling involves putting something of value, usually money, at risk in the hope of winning more money or a prize. It is a form of risk taking that can affect self-esteem, relationships, mental and physical health, work performance and social life. People may gamble for fun, to relieve boredom or as a way of making money. The act of gambling can be illegal in some places.
Some people with a gambling addiction have difficulty admitting their problem and seeking help. This is partly because gambling is often a social activity in a group setting, where the desire to win may be reinforced by a sense of camaraderie among fellow players. It is also because many people have a genetic predisposition to thrill-seeking behaviour and impulsivity, and research shows that the brains of these individuals process reward information differently than others’.
In addition, a person with a gambling addiction can hide their habit by lying to family members and/or therapists. They might lie about how much time they spend gambling or how much money they lose. They may even steal or embezzle to fund their gambling habits.
The best treatment for gambling addiction is cognitive-behavioral therapy, which teaches you to change unhealthy behaviors and thoughts and replace them with healthier ones. It can also help you solve the work, home and relationship problems caused by your compulsive gambling. Family therapy and marriage, career and credit counseling can also be helpful for those who have been impacted by a loved one’s gambling addiction.