Gambling involves placing something of value on an event whose outcome is dependent on chance. This can include placing bets on sports events, buying lottery tickets or even playing pokies. It can be a fun pastime, but if you have gambling problems it’s important to seek help.
People gamble for a variety of reasons, from the thrill of winning to socialising and escaping worries or stress. But if it becomes out of control, gambling can cause a range of mental health problems including anxiety, depression and even suicide. If you’re struggling with a gambling addiction, there are many ways to get help, from self-help guides to peer support groups like Gamblers Anonymous.
Pathological gambling (PG) is a type of psychiatric disorder characterised by chronic and recurrent maladaptive patterns of gambling behaviors. PG is estimated to affect between 0.4-1.6% of Americans. PG develops at different times for different people, but often starts in adolescence or young adulthood and peaks several years later. It tends to run in families, suggesting a genetic link.
Treatment for gambling addiction is similar to other addictive behaviours and usually involves cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). This approach helps you challenge your irrational beliefs around betting, such as thinking you’re more likely to win if you place a bet at certain times or that lucky rituals will improve your chances. It also teaches you new coping skills so you can deal with urges to gamble in the future.