Gambling involves wagering something of value (money, goods or services) on an event with an uncertain outcome for the chance to win more. Compulsive gambling can lead to serious consequences, including addiction, debt and even homelessness. The problem can damage relationships with family and friends, hamper performance at work or study, cause health problems and ruin finances. It can also harm your self-esteem and leave you with feelings of worthlessness or shame.
While most people enjoy some form of gambling, for some the activity becomes problematic. The psychiatric community has long viewed pathological gambling as more of a compulsion than an addiction, but this year the APA moved it to the addictions chapter in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM).
A healthy relationship with gambling should involve only occasional recreational activity. If you feel the urge to gamble rising, talk to your GP about it. They will likely recommend cognitive behavioural therapy, a type of psychotherapy that helps people change their unhelpful thinking and behaviour. This can help you challenge irrational beliefs, such as the belief that you are more likely to win if you play for longer or that certain rituals will bring you luck.
To get control of your gambling, set a time limit before you enter the casino. Using a clock to remind yourself of how much time you have left is an easy way to stay on track. You should also decide before you go how much money you are willing to lose, and make that a fixed amount.