Gambling involves risking something of value (usually money) on an event that has at least some element of chance in its outcome, with the aim of winning a prize. The event can be anything from a horse race, to the outcome of a game of cards, to the result of an office pool. It can also include the purchase of lottery or scratch tickets, betting on a sporting event or other event, or even using the pokies.
The act of gambling is widely accepted in society and most people have gambled at some time in their lives. However, if gambling becomes problematic, it can lead to significant financial loss and disruption in one’s life. In addition, it can cause a variety of psychological problems including anxiety and depression. It is important to understand why and how people become addicted to gambling, so that if this happens in your life you can seek help.
In the past, those who had trouble with gambling were viewed as people with bad character or moral failings. Today, we know that these people have psychological problems that require treatment. This change in understanding has been reflected in the different editions of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders published by the American Psychiatric Association.
Research into the causes and treatments of problem gambling needs to be conducted across many disciplines and using various research designs. In particular, longitudinal studies following a group of respondents over time will enable researchers to better understand the onset and maintenance of both normal and pathological gambling behavior.
This type of research will also provide the necessary data for more accurate classification and description of pathological gambling. Moreover, it will allow the development of more effective and more cost-efficient interventions.
There are a number of factors that can contribute to the development of a gambling problem, such as an early big win, boredom susceptibility, impulsivity, a poor understanding of random events, the use of escape coping and stressful life experiences. Often, these factors exist in combination in a person and it is important to understand the complexity of this condition and not just blame it on poor character or moral failings. It is also helpful to remember that your loved ones who have gambling problems did not choose to gamble and probably don’t realise how the addiction works. This will help you not to get angry with them. Instead, you will be able to recognise that their behaviour is a sign of an underlying psychological issue and offer them support.