Gambling is an activity that involves putting something of value at risk on the outcome of an event that is determined in part by chance. People place bets on sports events, card games, horse races, dice, lottery tickets, machines and other activities. People gamble for social, financial or entertainment reasons. Some people have difficulty walking away from gambling, and they may become addicted.

Several forms of therapy have been shown to help people overcome their addictions. Cognitive-behavior therapy, for example, teaches people how to control unwanted thoughts and behaviors. It can also help them challenge irrational beliefs, such as the belief that a string of losses will soon turn into a win. Behavioral therapy can also help with the withdrawal symptoms of gambling disorder, including anxiety and depression.

A common way to get help for a gambling problem is through self-help support groups like Gamblers Anonymous. This 12-step program is modeled on Alcoholics Anonymous and can help people learn to change their unhealthy habits and build a strong support network.

A new type of treatment that focuses on reducing the activation of the prefrontal cortex may eventually prove to be useful in treating gambling addictions, as well as other addictions. It uses a combination of meditation and mindfulness exercises, along with group therapy and psychodynamic therapy to increase a person’s awareness of unconscious processes that influence their behavior. Those who have gambling disorders often hide their activity from loved ones, and they may lie about how much money they spend or lose.