Gambling is the wagering of something of value on an event with an element of chance and with the intention of winning a prize. Traditionally, this has involved money or other valuable items, but it can also include sports, games, raffles, and events such as horse and greyhound races, bingo and instant scratch cards.
People can become addicted to gambling for a variety of reasons. Often, they do not realize that they have a problem until it has impacted their relationships with family and friends, caused financial hardship or resulted in legal issues. In some cases, a person may be able to quit gambling on their own, but many need help. Several types of therapy have been shown to be effective in treating addictions to gambling. These include cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), psychodynamic therapy and group therapy. Additionally, there are self-help groups for gambling addicts, such as Gamblers Anonymous, which offer peer support.
Some people who gamble are genetically predisposed to thrill-seeking behaviour and impulsivity. They may also have certain brain structures that are less active, making them less capable of controlling impulses or weighing risk. There are also a number of cultural factors that can influence values and beliefs about gambling, which can make it difficult for someone to recognize a problem or seek treatment.
There are many ways to reduce the risk of gambling addiction, including seeking professional help, limiting spending and avoiding online gaming. However, it can be extremely difficult to break the habit, particularly if it has impacted your relationship with your spouse or children. The most important step is recognizing that you have a problem, which can take tremendous strength and courage. Many people who have overcome gambling addiction do so with the help of family therapy and self-help programs, such as Gamblers Anonymous.
Until recently, there has been a lack of consistent definitions and measurements for gambling related harm. While many public health approaches to gambling reference the need for harm minimisation, this has not always been adequately articulated. This paper aims to address this by proposing a functional definition and taxonomy of harm that is aligned with standard epidemiological protocols used in public health. The framework and taxonomy are aimed at researchers, treatment providers and those involved in developing public policy on gambling.