Gambling involves placing something of value, like money or merchandise, at risk on an event whose outcome is uncertain. It can be done in many ways, such as betting on a team or individual to win a game or by purchasing a lottery ticket or scratchcard. The object of gambling is to win more than you stake, whether by chance or skill. People with a pathological gambling disorder may experience repeated losses, feelings of hopelessness, and difficulty concentrating. They also may have an obsession with gambling and other behaviors, such as using drugs or alcohol.
Research shows that a combination of cognitive-behavioral therapy, such as relapse prevention, and family therapy can help with the symptoms of gambling disorder. These therapies teach you to recognize triggers, such as stress or boredom, and find other ways to relieve them. They also teach you healthier ways to cope with unpleasant emotions, such as by exercising, spending time with friends who don’t gamble, or practicing relaxation techniques.
Psychiatrists also can recommend support groups for people with gambling problems, such as Gamblers Anonymous, which is modeled after Alcoholics Anonymous. You can also find solace in the company of others who have faced the same challenges and succeeded in breaking free from their addictions. If you have trouble finding a group near you, consider joining one online. It’s also important to strengthen your support network and find new activities that you enjoy. This can help you take back control of your life.