How to Overcome a Gambling Disorder

Gambling is the wagering of something of value, such as money or property, on an event with a random outcome. In order to be considered gambling, the event must involve a chance of winning and a prize.

While most adults and adolescents in the United States have placed some type of bet, a subset of them develop gambling disorder, a condition that’s listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders as a persistent, recurrent pattern of betting behavior that causes significant distress or impairment. Some people are particularly susceptible to developing gambling disorder, including those with low incomes, young people and men. In addition, some individuals with psychiatric disorders may be especially vulnerable to developing gambling disorder.

Understanding how gambling works can help protect you from its dangers. For example, if you’re feeling the urge to gamble, remember that it’s not a lucrative way to make money. Before you head to the casino, determine how much money you’re willing to lose and stick to that amount. And, don’t use ATM cards at the casino; leave them at home or in your hotel room so you can’t overspend.

You should also create boundaries around the use of alcohol and drugs in your life. It’s common for people with gambling addictions to become drunk or high before engaging in the activity, and this can increase their risk of problems. Additionally, drinking and drug use can interfere with your ability to make sound decisions.

If you’re dealing with a gambling addiction, it’s important to seek support from family and friends. You can also seek professional counseling, which is available in many forms, including online and inpatient treatment programs. During counseling, you can work through issues that are related to your gambling, such as relationships, finances and depression.

Another key step in overcoming your gambling problem is realizing that you have one. This can be difficult, especially if you’ve lost a lot of money or have strained or broken relationships as a result of your gambling addiction. But it’s important to remember that there is hope for recovery, and that you’re not alone.

When you gamble, your brain releases dopamine, a feel-good neurotransmitter that makes you excited and happy. While you’re supposed to only feel this chemical when you win, some people have trouble recognizing when they’ve lost enough and need to keep playing in the hopes of reversing their losses.

The nomenclature in the field of gambling disorder has evolved considerably over time. Historically, researchers, psychiatrists and other treatment care clinicians have framed the issue of pathological gambling in a number of different ways, reflecting their disciplinary training, experience and world view. This variety of perspectives has stimulated debate and controversy. These discussions have contributed to the fact that there is currently no uniform nomenclature for this phenomenon. There is agreement, however, that individuals with gambling disorder have a clinically distinct psychological dysfunction.