Gambling is a form of entertainment where people risk money or other valuable items to win a prize in a game that involves chance. It may involve lottery tickets, scratch cards, fruit machines, casinos, or sports betting.

Many people gamble to relieve stress, frustration, boredom, or other emotions. However, it is important to learn to self-soothe these feelings in healthier ways, rather than gambling.

Some people are addicted to gambling and need help to stop. This is called problem gambling and can be treated with therapy, family and marriage counseling, and career and credit counseling.

Studies show that problem gambling is more common than you might think. In fact, around two million Americans suffer from this disorder, and for as many as 20 million more people it has become a serious problem that affects work, relationships, and their health.

It is also very difficult to stop gambling once it has started. It can be a long and challenging process, and it may require support from friends and family members.

The cost of gambling is not simply lost money, but includes social costs. These include emotional pain and suffering by family members, lost productivity, and criminal justice system costs.

There is also a high rate of suicide among people with problem gambling. Public Health England estimates that more than 400 suicides are related to this condition every year.

A person who is a problem gambler might be able to quit on their own, but this is unlikely. They may need help with other aspects of their life, such as relationships, study or work, debt, and homelessness.

Psychologists use criteria to diagnose gambling disorders and recommend treatment for them. They are often based on the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, which is published by the American Psychiatric Association.

If you think that a friend or family member might have a problem with gambling, ask them for help. Then set boundaries and let them know that you will be their advocate when it comes to controlling their spending habits.

Research has shown that gambling can cause lasting changes in the brain, including areas similar to those affected by addictive drugs. The release of dopamine during gambling triggers reward pathways in the brain that can lead to overindulgence and addiction.

Some of the most effective treatment for gambling disorders is cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). It teaches people to resist irrational beliefs about their gambling patterns, and learn strategies that allow them to make better decisions.

In addition, there are dozens of other types of treatments for problem gambling that have been proven to be effective. Some of them are outlined in our online self-help resources below.

Taking up a new hobby or learning to relax are good ways to improve your mood and reduce the risk of developing a gambling problem. It is also a good idea to keep in touch with friends and family who do not gamble.

There are also many books, magazines, and other publications on gambling that can be helpful in learning more about this disorder. Some of them are free or inexpensive and others can be purchased at a reasonable price.