Gambling involves risking something of value on an event that is determined at least in part by chance, with the hope that you will win and gain something of value. While many people associate gambling with slot machines, casinos and bingo, gambling actually occurs in a variety of settings. It may include playing office pools, buying lottery or scratch tickets, betting on sports games and events, and even betting on horse races. The important thing to remember about gambling is that you always have a chance of losing.
It is estimated that as many as 20 million Americans have a serious gambling addiction. For those individuals, it is a disorder that can cause financial, relationship and health problems. It can also be extremely difficult to overcome. Gambling is a legal activity in most states and is regulated by state and federal laws. It is also a very profitable industry, bringing in billions of dollars each year in the United States alone. Despite its popularity and profitability, many people have trouble controlling their gambling behavior.
One of the most effective treatments for gambling problems is cognitive-behavior therapy, which teaches people to resist unwanted thoughts and behaviors. In addition, some people benefit from pharmacological treatment. In particular, antidepressants have been shown to help reduce the severity of gambling symptoms in some people.
Another approach to treating gambling problems is to use a family-based model, which is designed to help the entire family manage problem gambling. Families can be involved in a number of ways, including helping set financial boundaries and managing credit. They can also help support the gambler by reaching out to friends and other families who have had similar experiences. They can also encourage the gambler to seek treatment for any underlying mood disorders, such as depression, which often triggers and makes worse gambling behavior.
While some people gamble recreationally, others become addicted to the excitement and euphoria of the game. To be considered compulsive, a person’s gambling has to interfere with his or her daily life and cause significant distress. The following are some characteristics of compulsive gambling:
a need to gamble with increasing amounts of money in order to experience the desired excitement; a strong urge to continue gambling despite negative consequences (e.g., debts, legal troubles); the perception that a loss is just “part of the game” and will eventually be made up for; lying to family members, therapists or employers about how much he or she gambles; and the use of illegal activities, such as stealing, to finance gambling.
Behavioral research on pathological gambling has been facilitated by the advent of longitudinal studies, which follow a group of participants over time. Longitudinal data allow researchers to examine the onset, development, and maintenance of normal and problem gambling behavior, as well as the factors that influence these behaviors. Although longitudinal studies are increasingly common and sophisticated, several barriers make them challenging to conduct. These include the massive funding required for a multiyear commitment; difficulties in maintaining research team continuity over a long period of time and problems with sample attrition; and the knowledge that longitudinal data confound aging effects and period effects (e.g., does a person’s interest in gambling increase because he or she is now 18 and at the age of majority, or because a casino opened in the area?).
Gambling involves risking something of value on an event that is determined at least in part by chance, with the hope that you will win and gain something of value. While many people associate gambling with slot machines, casinos and bingo, gambling actually occurs in a variety of settings. It may include playing office pools,…