What is Gambling?
Gambling is an activity where people place something of value (either money or possessions) on an event that is determined at least in part by chance. They do this with the hope of winning more than they have risked. Examples of gambling include playing slot machines, purchasing lottery or scratch-off tickets, and placing bets on office pools. Gambling is illegal in many countries, and it is a common cause of addiction.
It is also important to understand that even if you gamble for fun, you are still taking a risk. A person can have a gambling problem if they do it more than occasionally, lose control over their money or other assets, or experience a negative impact on their family, friends, and job. It can also be a symptom of depression and anxiety. If you or someone you know has a problem with gambling, please do not hesitate to talk to one of our counsellors, it is free and confidential.
The first step to treating gambling problems is finding healthy replacements for the behavior. This can be done by involving family and friends, engaging in physical activity, or joining a support group. A popular treatment option is cognitive-behavioral therapy, which teaches a person to recognize and confront irrational beliefs that may be driving their gambling habits. In addition to CBT, some individuals with a gambling disorder benefit from peer support groups such as Gamblers Anonymous, which uses a 12-step model similar to Alcoholics Anonymous.
Another way to reduce your urges is to only gamble with money you can afford to lose, and to stop as soon as you hit your limit. It’s also a good idea to set time and money limits before you begin gambling, and not to change them. Finally, be aware that there are no medications for gambling disorders, though some may help treat co-occurring symptoms such as depression or anxiety.
Some people with a gambling problem find it hard to admit they have a problem and will try to hide their activity from family and friends. This is often because they feel ashamed of their gambling behavior, and it can be difficult to prove that they have a problem when there are no visible signs such as increased spending or changes in behavior.
A large number of tools have been developed to assess gambling problems, including a variety of questionnaires and assessments that measure various aspects of gambling, such as risk-taking, impulsivity, and the tendency to gamble in response to distress. A small number of these assessment tools have been specifically designed for use with youth, including a recently developed Canadian Adolescent Gambling Inventory. In addition, many clinicians use existing psychological models and theories of gambling to identify adolescent gambling problems.