Gambling Disorders


Gambling involves placing something of value on an event with an element of chance and the potential to win a prize. It may involve putting money on the outcome of a game of chance or skill, such as a lottery, cards, dice, horse races, games of chance on the Internet, or bingo.

Research shows that gambling causes significant distress, depression and anxiety for people who are addicted to it. It can also interfere with work, school, relationships, and other activities. Despite the stigma of admitting to having a gambling problem, treatment is available for people who are struggling.

A variety of medications and therapy techniques have been proven to be effective in treating gambling disorders. Some patients respond well to cognitive-behavioral therapy, which teaches people how to resist unwanted thoughts and habits. Other people benefit from peer support groups such as Gamblers Anonymous, a 12-step program modeled after Alcoholics Anonymous. These groups provide valuable support, and they can help a person find a sponsor who has experience staying free from gambling addiction.

Some researchers are using longitudinal designs to gain a more accurate and detailed understanding of the impact of gambling on individuals, families, and communities. This approach to studying gambling allows for more precise causal inference and identifies factors that moderate and exacerbate gambling participation. It will enable researchers to develop more targeted and efficient interventions.

Besides the chance of winning big, many people gamble to relieve stress, socialize with friends, and challenge themselves. The thrill of the potential jackpot can change one’s mood, as does the feeling of euphoria that gaming triggers in the brain. For some, the game can even become a source of income.

While gambling is often associated with casinos and racetracks, it can take place in a variety of locations. For example, some people purchase a lottery ticket while waiting in line at a gas station or participate in a friendly sports betting pool with coworkers. In addition, the growing popularity of simulated gambling games on mobile phones and online is increasing the prevalence of unregulated forms of gambling.

People with gambling disorder have difficulty controlling their behavior and continue to gamble even when it causes serious problems. Symptoms of a gambling disorder include: (1) repeated attempts to control, cut down on or stop gambling; (2) feelings of restlessness or being irritable when trying to quit; (3) lying to family members, therapists and employers about how much time and money is spent on gambling; and (4) chasing losses (trying to win back the money lost by gambling). It can be hard for loved ones to cope with a gambler’s compulsion, especially when they try to rationalize their requests for “just one more bet”. But if you are able to get help, you can build a strong support network. If your gambler has children, you can arrange for a professional counselor to talk to them about the dangers of gambling. You can also encourage them to make new friends, join a book club or sports team, enroll in an education class, or volunteer for a worthy cause.