The Risks of Gambling

Gambling involves betting something of value on an event with a random component and the intention of winning something else of value. The event can take many forms, including card games, sports events, lottery draws, casino games and even some types of social gambling.

While there is no single form of gambling that poses the greatest risk of problem gambling, some forms are more likely to cause harm than others. For example, a person who bets on horse or football accumulators may experience more significant problems than someone who plays poker with friends for money. In general, the likelihood of developing a gambling problem increases with age. The behavior can also become more severe in people who are influenced by family and friends.

Compulsive gambling can be triggered by stress or other factors in your life, and it tends to run in families. Symptoms can begin in childhood, early adulthood or later in life, and may be exacerbated by poverty, alcoholism, drug abuse, depression or other illnesses. Those who struggle with compulsive gambling often hide their problem and may use theft, fraud or other dishonest means to cover up their behavior.

Unlike addiction to drugs or alcohol, there is no single treatment for gambling disorder. However, cognitive behavioral therapy, psychodynamic therapy, psychoeducation and group therapy are among the most common interventions. In addition, some individuals benefit from inpatient or residential treatment and rehab programs, especially those who are progressing toward pathological gambling or who are recovering (i.e., they met DSM-IV criteria for pathological gambling at some point in their lives but do not meet current criteria).

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