Gambling is when you place something of value on an event that depends on random chance, such as betting on a football team to win a match or buying a scratchcard. You then hope to win a prize, which could be anything from a small amount of money to a life-changing jackpot. It’s important to be aware that gambling can be addictive and to seek help if you’re having problems.

While some people have no problem, others are unable to control their urges and can’t stop gambling. This is called a gambling disorder and can cause serious problems in work, relationships, and health. People who have this condition may start gambling at an early age and it can run in families. It can also be made worse by stress, depression, or substance abuse.

Many people with gambling disorder try to cope with their symptoms by using self-help techniques, such as attending a support group for gamblers or talking to a therapist. Others are able to get help from their family and friends. Treatment options include cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), psychodynamic therapy, and a combination of these.

In the past, gambling was seen as a form of recreation and not an addiction. However, this view has changed as understanding of addiction science has developed. As a result, in 2013, pathological gambling was moved from the “behavioral” category into the “substance-related and addictive disorders” section of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). The DSM-5 criteria for this disorder include tolerance (the need to bet more and more to feel the same pleasure), preoccupation with gambling, and a loss of control over gambling behavior.

The DSM-5 criteria also includes a change in how the brain sends chemical messages, which can be seen as similar to how drugs affect the body. This change in the brain is believed to be why people develop gambling addictions. The DSM-5 also states that underlying mood disorders can contribute to the development of gambling addictions and make them worse.

It can be very difficult to live with a person who has a gambling disorder. It’s common for people to lie about their gambling or to be secretive about it because they don’t want their family and friends to know they are spending more than they can afford. They might even become defensive if they are confronted about their gambling. The most important thing for those coping with a loved one who has a gambling disorder is to get them the help they need. It’s important to talk to them about their addiction, set boundaries, and manage finances. If possible, consider taking over management of their credit and bank accounts. This can help keep them accountable and prevent them from relapsing. You might also consider joining a family support group for problem gamblers, such as Gam-Anon.