Gambling is the activity of placing bets on an event, with the aim of winning something else with an uncertain chance of success with the same goal. The word ‘gambling’ comes from the Greek word ‘gammon’, which means ‘to play’. Gambling therefore requires three elements for it to be valid: risk, consideration, and a stake. If an individual places a bet and wins, then that individual has won and so that person has earned his or her winnings; however, if the individual loses and the amount lost is less than the initial amount wagered, then that individual is said to have lost, and so receives his or her winnings minus the stake. In this way, the activity of gambling can be divided into two main categories: common and special gambling.
Generalized gambling, such as bridge, craps, baccarat, etc. are activities where there are a wide variety of possibilities, and people tend to place bets on virtually anything and everything. Because these types of gambling activities often involve a large number of people, the possibilities for added risk and payout are very great. This type of gambling is referred to as general gambling addiction.
A problem gambling addiction is when a person cannot stop gambling even when their loss is extremely painful, when they would have been better off not gambling, or when they are in financial difficulty. Problem gambling addicts can be classified as heavy gamblers; people who bet consistently and excessively. They can also be classified as binge gamblers; individuals who regularly bet beyond their means and have to continually seek financial security to cover their losses. Finally, problem gamblers can be classified as compulsive gamblers; individuals who are obsessed with losing large amounts of money. Compulsive gambling can be an addiction just as generalized gambling addiction can be.
Generalized gambling addiction and other forms of addictions are easier to recognize because of the fact that they often manifest themselves as behavior problems. Gamblers will be more likely to associate their problem with poor work or personal relationships than with gambling. For this reason, it is easier to treat addictions to any one of the gamblers’ vices, but it is important to address the addiction to gambling itself. This may require participation in therapy or support groups. However, the most effective way to treat any form of addiction is to remove the stimulus that is causing the behavior in the first place. Gamblers who are dealing with higher risk addictions should be treated inpatiently so that their underlying problems are addressed and resolved.
Because problem gambling is more likely to develop in those who are experiencing greater levels of stress, anxiety and/or are having difficulties in their personal and social relationships, treatment is often difficult to find. Those who are trying to quit should try to minimize their outside involvement and focus on staying focused on their goals of quitting gambling. Individuals who are trying to manage their addictions will also need ongoing support and counseling in order to overcome their problem. Inpatient programs at local hospitals and treatment centers are available for those who are suffering from addiction to gambling. Many individuals who have become immersed in their addiction to gambling find that adding in a little help from professionals and fellow gamblers is very helpful.
When all else fails, gamblers can turn to self-help books that offer tips and strategies on how to deal with addictions and gambling behavior. There are also websites that offer free advice and information regarding gambling behavior. Gamblers who are considering changing their gambling habits should consult their doctor to make sure that a substance abuse or addiction is not the problem. Gambling addicts should always be kept under the close care of a medical professional. Gamblers who are contemplating making a full-time change of direction from gaming can take advantage of the number of free clinics and addiction treatment centers in the nation. Gamblers can also consult with local law enforcement to determine if the addiction they are suffering from is a problem that needs to be dealt with accordingly.