Gambling is the activity of placing a bet on an uncertain event with the intent of winning something of value. It requires three elements to be present: consideration (an amount wagered), risk (the chance of a winning outcome) and a prize.
It can be a social or recreational activity, or it can be addictive. Problem gambling can lead to physical and mental health issues, relationship problems, debt, poor performance at work or study, and a possible suicide. It can also have a harmful impact on your family and friends.
You can be more likely to develop a gambling problem if you have underlying mood disorders, such as depression or stress. If you are having trouble controlling your gambling, ask for help from a mental health professional. You might also need to seek support from friends or family who have experienced gambling problems.
Often, people who gamble do it for coping reasons – to forget unpleasant feelings and relieve boredom or loneliness. But there are healthier ways to deal with unpleasant feelings such as exercising, spending time with friends who don’t gamble, taking up new hobbies or practicing relaxation techniques.
Compulsive gambling is when you lose control over your behaviour and continue to gamble despite the harm it causes. You may find that you gamble more than you can afford, hide your gambling activities or try to steal or fraud money to support your habit.
You might need to look for support from a gambling addiction treatment service, such as Gamblers Anonymous, or from a mental health professional who specializes in treating gambling. These services are geared towards helping you cut down or stop gambling and build your life back up to a healthy, satisfying level.