Gambling is the risking of something of value (such as money or possessions) on an event involving chance, such as a football match or scratchcard, with the intention to win something else of value. Whether the event happens as expected is determined by luck, the player’s skill and a variety of factors including recreational interest, cognitive distortions, the use of escape coping, and stressful life experiences.

When gambling is a problem, it can cause negative effects at personal, interpersonal and community/society/societal levels. At the personal level, gamblers can become depressed or anxious and lose their sense of purpose. Gambling can also contribute to the escalation of debt, which can lead to financial strain and bankruptcy, or even homelessness. In addition, the loss of employment and business opportunities can have significant social impacts.

Managing gambling addiction involves a range of strategies and therapists can help with the process. In addition to individual and family therapy, group support can be a powerful tool. Programs like Gamblers Anonymous, based on the 12-step model of Alcoholics Anonymous, can provide a peer support network and guidance. Other therapies include cognitive behavioral therapy and psychoeducation, which teaches a new way to think about risk and decision-making. A therapist can also help with the development of healthy coping skills and explore the underlying issues that contribute to the disorder. BetterHelp, a professional counseling service, can connect you with licensed and accredited therapists who specialize in treating problem gambling and can address other issues you may be struggling with, such as depression or anxiety.