Gambling is the indulgence of hope or fear in something of worth with an unpredictable outcome, usually with the objective of winning money or other material possessions. Gambling therefore requires three important components to be present: risk, consideration, and a reward. Although most gamblers are not consciously aware of these elements, they operate under the influence of these three forces. The conscious mind is busy thinking about the game, the conscious mind is distracted by the immediate pleasure derived from winning, while the subconscious mind takes care of the risks involved. gamblers can be categorized as thrill-seeking, chance-taking, or risk-avoidant depending on their behavior and the factors that induce these emotions.
The addictive qualities of gambling can be compared to alcoholism or drug addiction in the sense that, like alcoholism or drugs, gambling addiction has both physical and psychological components. Alcoholism, for example, is characterized by compulsive drinking; most addicts have to resort to drink in order to function normally. Like drugs or alcohol, gambling addiction is also characterized by compulsive behavior, which means that repeated actions that do not have any rational basis, such as betting, gambling, slot machine gaming, card games, and the like.
Most people associate gambling addiction with heavy drinking, but this association is not completely correct because gambling addiction also often involves some degree of daydreaming. Many gamblers engage in what is known as fantasizing, a phenomenon where a person engages in what appears to be an unreachable activity (like driving across the country in a rented car) in order to experience some sort of excitement, release stress, or even to overcome anxiety. In many cases, however, these fantasized activities lead to substance abuse or gambling problem.
Like any addiction, gambling addiction is treatable. Drug and alcohol addictions are treatable through professional help. By contrast, many gamblers need to turn to self-help methods in order to overcome their addiction. Gamblers can learn techniques that can help reduce the risk of gambling, as well as ways to cope with stress and the strain of constant gambling activity. Gamblers also need to develop a sense of their true motivation for playing, as well as the discipline to stick with their chosen game.
In addition to seeking professional help, many people suffering from gambling addiction may try to manage their addiction alone. There are a number of approaches people use to manage their gambling addiction, including self-hypnosis, positive affirmation, yoga, hypnotherapy, meditation, muscle relaxation techniques, and others. Gamblers who choose self-help strategies may find it helpful to talk to a trusted member of their family or friend about their problem gambling habit. This type of intervention can provide valuable input and perspective about gambling, which many addicts may find difficult to obtain on their own.
One of the biggest problems associated with gambling addiction is coping with changes in betting and gambling behaviors. Most gamblers begin with only one or two gambling activities, but over time, these same individuals may begin to gamble on a variety of different items. While some problem gamblers limit their gambling activities to only a few select types of gambling events, others may even gamblers on a daily basis. When this occurs, the problem gambler must learn to monitor their gambling behavior closely, as sudden, uncontrollable changes can signal an addiction that should be monitored.
Illegal gambling is a leading form of gambling, and can often lead to financial problems. In most states, gambling devices such as lotto tickets, bingo cards, poker chips and even gambling chip machines are illegal to operate. Gambling dens, strip joints and betting houses are commonly found in high-traffic areas and many individuals who do not have other opportunities for legal entertainment choose to gamble in these illegal locations. Unfortunately, while most state governments make gambling illegal, they rarely implement methods that will reduce the amount of gambling take place within their regulated environment. The lack of governmental control has created a potentially dangerous situation.
Although there is a wide range of approaches and techniques that can help an individual combat their addiction to gambling, there is no single solution that works for every person. For those with milder forms of addictions, therapeutic or psychological treatment can help them change gambling behaviors and improve their overall well-being. If you or someone you know is exhibiting signs of compulsive gambling behavior, it is important to contact a professional addiction specialist as soon as possible. While there are a variety of different treatments available, the sooner a problem gambler receives help, the greater the odds of success. Both the gamblers and the professionals involved in treatment efforts work together to help people recover from addiction and emerge victorious from the casinos and bingo halls.