Gambling involves placing something of value at risk on an event that has some element of chance in its outcome, with the potential to win something else of value. Examples include betting on a football match, buying a scratchcard, playing poker, bingo, slots or machines, and races, animal tracks and sporting events. Skills such as knowledge of game strategies may improve a person’s chances, but overall the final result is dependent on chance.
Pathological gambling (PG) is characterized by a pattern of maladaptive behaviors that cause significant problems for the gambler. It can affect a person’s health, relationships with friends and family, work performance, and finances. It is more likely to develop during adolescence and young adulthood. PG is more common in men than women and tends to involve more strategic or face-to-face forms of gambling, such as blackjack or poker.
The first step in overcoming a gambling problem is acknowledging that you have one. It can be a hard thing to admit, especially if you’ve lost money or strained your relationship with your partner as a result of your addiction. But there are ways to get help. You can try a self-help group for problem gamblers like Gamblers Anonymous, or seek help from your doctor. You can also take some time out of your day to postpone your urges to gamble, and you can ask for help from friends and family. If your addiction has escalated, you can call a hotline or go to an emergency room.