Gambling is an activity in which you put something of value (like money) on a random event that has an element of chance, such as scratchcards, fruit machines or betting. If you win, you get the prize; if you lose, you give up the money you gambled.
It is an addictive and time-consuming activity that can have negative consequences for the gambler, their family, friends and work colleagues. A large proportion of those who suffer from gambling addiction also have other mental health problems, such as depression and anxiety. In addition, gambling can have a number of positive effects such as socializing and skill development.
Psychiatrists have long been aware of the dangers of gambling, but in the past, they considered pathological gambling a compulsion rather than an addiction and relegated it to the same category as kleptomania or trichotillomania (hair-pulling). The psychiatric community now recognises that it is an impulse control disorder.
There are many ways to combat the negative impact of gambling, including peer support groups like Gamblers Anonymous and cognitive-behaviour therapy. It is important to strengthen your support network, and to find other activities that keep you away from casinos and online gambling websites. For example, you can try a new hobby or sport, take an education class, join a book club, make friends outside your workplace or volunteer for a cause. It’s also important to set spending and time limits before you start gambling, and never chase your losses. This is a common mistake that will almost always lead to bigger and more serious losses.