Gambling is a common social activity that involves the betting of money or other valuables on the outcome of a game involving chance. It can be played in casinos, sports books and other venues, such as church halls and at gas stations.
Although some forms of gambling are legal, others are not and can be dangerous. People who gamble can have a high risk of financial losses, addiction and incarceration. They can also cause damage to their relationships and performance at work or study.
Behavioral disorders and mental conditions can also make someone more susceptible to harmful gambling. They may have a history of substance abuse, a family history of substance use or problems with mood and anxiety.
If you suspect that you have a gambling problem, seek help from an expert. A professional can help you manage your finances, cope with stress and get support. You can also attend a Gamblers Anonymous meeting.
A person can become addicted to gambling if they feel they cannot stop and are losing control of their behaviour. The newest version of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, or DSM-5, lists pathological gambling as an impulse-control disorder alongside kleptomania, pyromania and trichotillomania (hairpulling).
To treat gambling, psychiatrists and other health professionals often recommend that patients seek inpatient or residential treatment and rehabilitation. These programs are designed to give the patient round-the-clock care and support, while helping them overcome their gambling problems.
You should also consider enlisting the help of a friend or family member. They may be able to help you manage the temptation to gamble by telling you about what it is like to have a gambling problem and how they have found recovery. They can also give you a different perspective on your loved one’s behavior.
If you know that a loved one is having trouble controlling their gambling, consider taking over the finances. This is a difficult step, but it is necessary to protect yourself and prevent relapse.
Be sure to keep your credit cards and bank accounts separate from the person who is a problem gambler. Having the money out of reach makes it more difficult for them to access.
You can also find support in your community. There are many self-help groups and charities that offer support and advice. These include Gam-Anon and Alcoholics Anonymous.
Your local library can provide you with information on resources and services for those who are having problems with gambling. You can also find contact numbers for a National Helpline and other assistance.
The American Psychiatric Association recently moved pathological gambling from the impulse-control section of its DSM to the addictions chapter, marking a significant change in how it is treated. This new classification reflects a growing understanding of the biology underlying addiction and will lead to new approaches in treating problem gamblers.
Whether or not gambling is legal in your country, it can still be a major social problem. It can hurt your physical and mental health, impact your performance at work or study, damage your relationships and put you in serious debt and possible homelessness. It can also be a contributing factor in hundreds of suicides each year.