Gambling is the wagering of something of value (usually money) on an event with an element of chance and the intent to win a prize. Instances of skill are discounted, but there is always a potential for winning a substantial prize. The prize can be anything of value, including money, property, services or even life itself. There are many ways to gamble, from scratchcards and fruit machines to betting on sports events and horse races.
The gambler may be a professional gambler or simply someone who enjoys placing a bet for entertainment purposes. While gambling can be fun, it is important for people to understand that it is not a reliable way to make money and should only be done with disposable income. In addition, the gambler should never gamble with funds needed to pay bills or rent. It is also a good idea to limit the number of times a person gambles, as it can become addictive.
Compulsive gambling is a serious problem that causes significant distress in a person’s life and requires treatment. A diagnosis of pathological gambling, or PG, is based on persistent and recurrent maladaptive patterns of gambling behavior. The incidence of PG is estimated to be between 0.4-1.6% of the population. Males develop PG at a higher rate than females, and it typically begins during adolescence or young adulthood. Individuals with PG have difficulty controlling their gambling behaviors and often continue gambling regardless of negative consequences.
Individuals with a PG diagnosis often engage in several types of problematic gambling behavior. They may engage in impulsive, nonstrategic gambling such as slot machines or bingo; they may also have trouble controlling their spending or engaging in more strategic forms of gambling such as card games or horse racing. They may lie to family members or therapists about the extent of their involvement in gambling, and they frequently use illegal means, such as forgery, embezzlement, theft, or fraud, to finance their gambling. Those with PG are also likely to have jeopardized or lost a significant relationship, job, or educational or career opportunity as a result of their gambling behavior.
There are a variety of treatment options for those with a PG, including cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). CBT teaches individuals how to change unhealthy gambling behaviors and thoughts. It can also teach them how to solve financial, work, and relationship problems that are caused by problem gambling. In addition, a therapist can help them treat any underlying conditions that may be contributing to their gambling problems such as depression or bipolar disorder.
If you or a loved one are struggling with a gambling addiction, it is important to seek help. The counselors at Family and Marriage Counseling can help you understand the issues surrounding gambling, discuss your concerns, and find healthy alternatives. Call us today to speak with a counselor! Our service is free, confidential and available 24/7.