Gambling is placing something of value (typically money) on an event that has an element of chance and the potential to win a greater amount of money. This can include betting on sports events, games of chance like lottery tickets or scratch cards, or casino games such as poker, baccarat and roulette.
Most adults and adolescents have placed some type of bet, but a subset develop gambling disorder, which is described in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders as persistent and recurrent behavior that is associated with substantial distress or impairment. It is important to understand that only a professional can diagnose the condition and recommend treatment.
Several types of psychotherapy can help people with gambling disorders. These treatments can involve one-on-one sessions with a licensed mental health professional, or group therapy. Psychotherapy aims to change unhealthy emotions, thoughts and behaviors that contribute to the problem. It can also address any co-occurring conditions that may be contributing to the gambling behavior, such as depression or anxiety.
Many people who gamble do so for coping reasons, such as to relieve boredom or stress, or to make themselves feel better after a stressful day or argument with a loved one. Practicing healthier ways to cope, such as exercising, spending time with friends who don’t gamble, and relaxing activities like meditation, can reduce the urge to gamble. It is also a good idea to remove access to money for gambling, by putting someone else in charge of your finances, closing online gambling accounts, limiting credit card use or having cash with you at all times.