Gambling is the wagering of money or other valuables on an event with a random outcome. It can be conducted in many different forms, including a game of chance, a lottery or raffle, and sports betting. It is a large international commercial activity with legal gambling taking place in many countries. The amount of money legally wagered each year is estimated to be over $10 trillion (illegal gambling may exceed this figure).
Pathological gambling is characterized by persistent and recurrent maladaptive patterns of gambling behaviors. It is a serious problem affecting 0.4%-1.6% of Americans, usually beginning in adolescence or young adulthood and progressing over several years. It is more common in men than in women, and it appears to be triggered by the more socially interactive forms of gambling (such as blackjack or poker) rather than less socially interactive forms of gambling, such as bingo or slot machines.
Whether the cause is a mood disorder, such as depression or anxiety, or a gambling addiction, counseling can help individuals understand their problem and think about options. However, only the person with the gambling addiction can decide to stop. Other treatment approaches include peer support groups, such as Gamblers Anonymous, which is based on the 12-step model of Alcoholics Anonymous. Medications are also available to treat co-occurring disorders.
If a person is trying to stop gambling, they should consider strengthening their support network and finding other things to do with their time. They should also make sure that they have all their debts paid off, close online gambling accounts, and limit how much money they keep on hand.