Gambling involves risking something of value (money, property etc) on a random event with the hope of winning something else of value. Some people gamble for enjoyment, while others do it to relieve boredom or stress. For some, gambling can become a compulsive behaviour. It’s important to know your gambling habits and seek help if they are harmful.
There are many factors that influence whether someone develops a gambling disorder. It’s especially common in young people and men, although it can affect anyone. It also tends to run in families. People who have lower incomes may be at higher risk because they have more to lose with a big win than those with greater wealth.
Another risk factor is partial reinforcement, which is when an action doesn’t reward you 100% of the time and doesn’t punish you 100% of the time. This makes you think that your chances of winning are much higher than they really are.
The good news is that there are ways to overcome a gambling addiction. You can strengthen your support network, practice relaxation techniques and find healthier ways to relieve boredom or stress. For example, try exercising, spending time with friends who don’t gamble, or joining a book club or sports team. You could also seek peer support through a gambling recovery program like Gamblers Anonymous, which is based on the 12-step model of Alcoholics Anonymous. Another option is cognitive-behavioral therapy, which teaches you to challenge irrational beliefs and habits.