Gambling Disorders


Gambling is an activity whereby people risk money or other assets in the hope of winning. It is an enjoyable pastime and there are many ways to gamble, including lotteries, sports betting, horse racing, video poker, and slot machines. However, gambling can be dangerous if it becomes an addictive behaviour and negatively impacts your life. A person with a gambling disorder may experience difficulties in social relationships, employment, or school and may spend more than they can afford to lose. The onset of a gambling problem can occur at any age, and symptoms can be seen as early as adolescence or later in adulthood. Several different types of therapy can help people with gambling disorders, such as cognitive behavioral therapy and psychodynamic therapy.

A large portion of the world’s population engages in gambling to some extent, with organized lotteries being a popular form of gambling. State-operated or licensed lotteries can be found in nearly all European countries, the United States, Australia, and a number of Asian and South American countries. Organized football (soccer) pools are also popular, and are legal in most European countries, as well as in the United States and a few South American and African nations.

While there is much research on the effects of gambling on individuals and society, very little experimental work has examined the effect of specific games or betting structures on pathological gambling. There is, however, substantial research on a variety of cognitive and motivational factors that influence the likelihood that someone will take risks or make non-rational gambles (Cohen and Chesnick, 1970; Ladoucer and Dube, 1997).

It is recommended that you only gamble with funds that you can afford to lose, and limit the time you spend gambling to avoid becoming addicted. Also, be sure to avoid chasing your losses – the more you try to win back what you’ve lost, the more likely you are to lose even more. Also, make a habit of not gambling when you’re depressed or upset.

There are many things you can do to improve your gambling habits, including setting spending and time limits for yourself and learning to identify triggers for your gambling. You can also try to relieve unpleasant emotions in healthier ways, such as exercising, spending time with friends who don’t gamble, or practicing relaxation techniques. Lastly, it’s important to make a solid support network for yourself and find a sponsor who can support you as you work to overcome your addiction.

There are a few different types of therapies that can be used to treat gambling disorders, such as cognitive behavioral therapy, psychodynamic therapy, and family therapy. Some people also benefit from attending a peer support group, such as Gamblers Anonymous. This can help you build new connections with other people who are working to overcome their gambling addictions, and may encourage you to rely less on gambling as a way to feel connected to others. A good place to start is by joining a local support group in your area, or reaching out to other people through online or phone gambling helplines and self-help groups for families such as Gam-Anon.