Gambling is the wagering of something of value (typically money) on an event whose outcome depends on chance with the intent of winning a larger prize. It can be done through a variety of methods, including lottery tickets, cards, games of chance, horse racing, dice, scratch-off tickets, and more. Some people develop a problem with gambling, which is also known as pathological gambling, and it can negatively impact their lives. The disorder can begin in adolescence or later in life and can affect men and women equally. People with a gambling disorder often report that they have trouble controlling their urges and may hide their problem from family members and employers.
There are different types of therapy to help treat a person with a gambling disorder, and some medications can be used to address co-occurring depression or anxiety. However, only one in ten people with gambling disorders receive treatment. Many of those who get help have a friend or family member support them, and some go to a self-help group for gamblers, such as Gamblers Anonymous. Getting physical activity and avoiding alcohol can also help.
Longitudinal studies provide the best evidence about how a person’s behavior changes over time. These studies allow researchers to identify factors that moderate and exacerbate a person’s participation in gambling. They also enable them to establish causal relationships. Unfortunately, longitudinal studies are very expensive and require a large commitment of time from the participating individuals.