Gambling is a recreational activity that involves wagering money or something else of value on a game or event with the chance of winning a prize. It can be done in a casino, at the track or online. People gamble for a variety of reasons, but they usually do it with the goal of earning extra cash.
Problem gambling is a serious condition that affects more than two million Americans. It causes serious health, financial and relationship problems. It can also be a source of suicide.
Symptoms of gambling disorder may appear suddenly or over time. They are present in both adolescents and adults, and can cause harm to the individual, their family, and society.
A diagnosis of gambling disorder is made by a mental health professional. Most professionals use the criteria in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), which is published by the American Psychiatric Association.
Signs and symptoms of gambling disorder include: Experiencing financial or other problems due to excessive gambling, including credit card debt, homelessness, job loss and divorce. Repeated unsuccessful efforts to control, cut back or stop gambling. Frequent thoughts about gambling, such as reliving past gambling or planning future gambling.
You may also have trouble controlling your spending, especially when you have a significant amount of money on hand. You’re impulsive about your spending habits and lose control of your budget. Getting help for your gambling problems can prevent or reduce these problems.
Age, gender and other factors can make someone more susceptible to problem gambling. For example, men tend to gamble more than women, and they have a higher risk of developing compulsive gambling. Younger individuals also tend to have more severe gambling problems than older adults.
Your environment and your social life can also influence your gambling behavior. If you live near a large casino, are exposed to a lot of gambling opportunities or have poor gambling coping skills, you may be more likely to develop a problem with gambling.
If you are a gambler, consider seeking help from a licensed counselor or addiction specialist. These professionals can help you identify the root of your problem and recommend a treatment plan. You may also want to join a support group, such as Gamblers Anonymous. This 12-step program is patterned after Alcoholics Anonymous and offers a wide range of resources to help you get through the difficult times in your recovery.
Identify your gambling triggers and avoid them as much as possible. You’ll need to find ways to deter your urges to gamble, like putting away all of your credit cards or taking out only a small amount of money at a time. You can also postpone your gambling urges by telling yourself that you’ll wait 5 minutes, 15 minutes or an hour before giving in to your craving.
You can also try a relaxation exercise or take a walk when you feel the urge to gamble. These relaxation exercises will relax your mind, help you think clearly and stop you from gambling.