Gambling is an activity that involves placing money or other assets on the outcome of a game. It is a popular pastime around the world, and can be found in many countries, including the United States, Europe, Australia and New Zealand.
Gambling problems can cause significant harm to an individual and to their family, friends, and work colleagues. This can include serious financial losses, depression, anxiety, and even suicide. It can also lead to physical and mental health problems, legal difficulties, and trouble with the law.
Harms related to gambling are a major public health issue. The Australian government defines gambling as a behaviour that is problematic and has a range of adverse consequences, with the safety or wellbeing of the gambler, their family or friends and the broader community at risk. However, a key limitation of this definition is that it does not define the actual underlying behaviour that causes the harms.
In a recent study, Neal et al  reviewed literature on gambling harms and identified two definitions of gambling harm. One of these was developed by the Queensland Government, and the other by the New Zealand government. The Queensland definition does not include a mechanism for the harms, whilst the New Zealand definition includes both a mechanism and an associated impact (i.e. ‘impacts of problem gambling’).
The Queensland Government definition of gambling harm is more precise than the New Zealand definition, and is the most widely accepted definition in the public health literature. The New Zealand definition is less precise, but has a stronger emphasis on the mechanisms of harm. This suggests that a greater focus on the mechanisms of harm would be more useful in measuring gambling-related harms.
To identify gambling problems, mental health professionals use a set of criteria that are included in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. These criteria, which are revised every five years, are based on scientific studies.
These criteria help identify a person who has a gambling problem and needs treatment. There are several types of treatment, such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), psychodynamic therapy, and group therapy.
Behavioral therapies often help people learn to replace unhealthy habits with healthier ones. This may involve learning to recognize and overcome the irrational thoughts that drive their gambling behavior.
It can also help people learn how to cope with negative emotions in healthier ways. For example, if someone’s gambling is causing them to feel lonely or depressed, they can practice relaxation techniques, take up new hobbies, or exercise to improve their mood.
If you believe that your gambling is affecting your life, get help immediately. It’s not a good idea to wait until you lose all your money, or you end up in debt. Getting professional help early can prevent these serious problems.
You can also ask for help from your local council, your doctor, or a social services worker. They can provide you with information about support groups and other options for treatment.