The amount of money legally wagered annually worldwide on gambling is estimated to be about $10 trillion (illegal wagers may exceed this figure). Gambling takes many forms, from lotteries and state-organized sports betting to casino games, online gaming, and social gambling. People gamble for a variety of reasons, including mood change and the desire to win big. The euphoria that comes with gambling can trigger chemical changes in the brain, and excessive gambling has been linked to mental illness such as pathological addiction.
In addition to financial impacts, gambling can cause harms at the interpersonal and community/societal levels. While research into the costs of gambling has been conducted, there has been less focus on examining its benefits and positive impacts. Studies of gambling have used a health economic approach, which assigns monetary values to intangible costs and benefits, or a cost-benefit analysis, which weighs the benefits and costs in terms of changes in quality of life.
If you are struggling with a gambling disorder, seeking help is a critical first step towards overcoming it. Therapy can help you learn to manage your symptoms and reclaim your life. A therapist can teach you strategies to reduce your gambling and help you build a new support system. Some options include psychodynamic therapy, which explores unconscious processes that may contribute to your behavior, and group therapy, which offers motivation and moral support from others who have also struggled with gambling disorder. You can also try joining a peer support program such as Gamblers Anonymous, which follows a 12-step recovery model similar to Alcoholics Anonymous.