Gambling Addiction


Gambling is an activity in which people risk money or anything else of value on the outcome of a game involving chance. It can be as simple as buying a lottery ticket or betting on sports events or the pokies. It can also be more complex like placing a wager with a friend on the outcome of a game. The gambler hopes to win money and is rewarded if they do. It is possible to become addicted to gambling and it can be devastating to families, relationships and careers. The good news is that gambling addiction can be treated and it is important to seek help if you are worried about your or someone else’s gambling behavior.

Pathological gambling (PG) is an addictive disorder characterized by recurrent maladaptive patterns of gambling behaviors. It typically begins in adolescence or young adulthood and often develops gradually over time. PG can affect both men and women, although it is more common in males.

People with a PG diagnosis have trouble controlling their gambling and may experience distressing emotions when they lose. Symptoms include: a strong urge to gamble; losing control of gambling, even after winning; lying to family members, therapists, or other professionals about how much they are spending on gambling; stealing or borrowing money to finance gambling; and jeopardizing job, school, or career opportunities in order to gamble (American Psychiatric Association 2000).

Psychiatrists can diagnose a gambling problem by using psychological tests. They can help you understand why you are gambling and come up with a treatment plan that works for you. There are no FDA-approved medications for treating gambling disorders, but psychotherapy and counseling can help you stop the behavior. Counseling can help you understand the nature of your problem and work through underlying mood disorders such as depression or anxiety that are causing or made worse by your gambling behavior.

It is important to remember that gambling products are designed to keep you playing, and they can be very addictive. It is essential to only gamble with disposable income and never use money that you need for bills or rent. Also, be sure to set money and time limits in advance before you begin gambling and stick to them. It is also important to avoid chasing your losses, as the more you try to win back what you have lost, the bigger your losses will likely be.

Finally, try to avoid gambling when you are feeling depressed or upset. It is hard to make sound decisions when you are in this state and it is more difficult to quit gambling. It is also important to find healthy ways to relieve boredom and unpleasant feelings, such as exercising, spending time with friends who don’t gamble, or practicing relaxation techniques.