Gambling Disorders


Gambling involves betting or staking something of value on an event that has the potential to result in loss. It is a form of entertainment that allows individuals to interact with each other, take their minds off their daily lives, and relax. This activity also provides financial benefits for the community. It is a source of income for some local governments and can help to boost the economy of struggling neighborhoods. However, gambling is not without its drawbacks, and some people develop a gambling disorder.

Most adults and adolescents have placed a bet at one time or another, and most do so without problems. But a subset of those who gamble end up developing a pathological gambling disorder, as described in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, fifth edition (DSM-5). Pathological gambling is a compulsion, like other impulse control disorders such as kleptomania, pyromania and trichotillomania (hair-pulling).

The main reason why people gamble is the desire to win money. The euphoria that comes with winning money is linked to the reward system in the brain. It is not only about the possibility of winning, but also about overcoming the anxiety associated with losing. In addition, some people play to socialize, and some do it because of the stress-reduction effects of gambling.

Many types of gambling are legal, and the availability of these activities has increased with the growth of the internet. The majority of gambling is done in casinos, but sports betting and online games with gambling elements are becoming more popular. Many people can now bet on events from the comfort of their homes, and some children as young as six years old are legally allowed to place a bet.

In addition, legalized gambling has brought in much-needed revenue for some local communities that have struggled economically, and some states are considering expanding legalized gambling to other forms of entertainment such as movies and theaters. However, gambling can lead to addiction and other behavioral disorders, including substance abuse.

A person with gambling disorder will exhibit signs such as lying to family members or therapists about the extent of their involvement in gambling, seeking ways to hide losses, and having a preoccupation with gambling. He or she will frequently gamble to try to get even (“chase” losses), and may have jeopardized or lost a significant relationship, job, or education opportunity because of gambling. Additionally, a person with this disorder may have committed illegal acts, such as forgery, fraud, theft or embezzlement, to finance gambling.

If you have a loved one with gambling disorder, seek help as soon as possible. Suggest calling a gambling hotline, seeking treatment or joining a support group such as Gamblers Anonymous. Most importantly, offer support and be patient. Remember that gambling disorder is a complex, chronic condition, and it will not go away overnight. However, there are steps you can take to reduce the impact of gambling on your family and your finances.

You May Also Like

More From Author