Gambling As an Addiction

Gambling As an Addiction

When most people think of gambling, they think of slot machines in casinos and placing bets on horse races or boxing matches. However, there are many ways to gamble — from scratch-off tickets and video poker to betting on sports events or office pools. Even playing bingo and purchasing lottery tickets can be considered gambling if it involves risking something of value with the hope of winning a prize, which can range from a small amount of money to a life-changing jackpot.

Gambling can become a problem when it takes over one’s life, interferes with work and social activities, or causes financial losses. It can also cause psychological or emotional problems such as depression and anxiety. If you have a gambling problem, seek help and learn to control the problem by understanding what causes it.

While many people have a healthy relationship with gambling, for some it can be a dangerous addiction that affects their life in significant and harmful ways. The good news is that there are many treatments available. Some involve residential or inpatient care, while others are outpatient programs. The type of treatment you need depends on how severe your gambling addiction is and the degree to which it interferes with your daily life.

It can be difficult to recognize a gambling addiction in yourself or a loved one. Often, the person will deny that they have a problem and try to hide their gambling activity from family and friends. This makes it even more important to strengthen your support network and seek help if you notice any warning signs of a gambling problem.

Psychiatric professionals used to think of pathological gambling as a form of impulse-control disorder, which included other conditions such as kleptomania and pyromania (fire-starting). Because of its similarities with substance abuse disorders in terms of symptoms, brain origin, comorbidity, and physiology, the psychiatric community moved pathological gambling into the Addictions chapter of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, or DSM-5.

Some researchers believe that gambling disorder may be linked to genetic predisposition and biological differences in the reward systems of the brain. Others suggest that gambling disorder is caused by environmental influences and a combination of factors, such as a lack of family structure and a culture in which gambling is valued.

There are several things that can be done to help manage a gambling addiction, including therapy and medication. For some, medications such as antidepressants and anti-anxiety drugs can help reduce the severity of symptoms and improve functioning. Other people benefit from self-help strategies, such as attending a support group and following a recovery program modeled after Alcoholics Anonymous. Regardless of what steps you take to overcome your gambling addiction, be patient and remember that the journey is a long one. It will not be easy, but you can make it through this difficult time with the help and support of family and friends. The key to overcoming gambling disorder is to always make wise decisions and avoid taking risks that you cannot afford to lose.