Gambling Disorders

Gambling is risking something of value on an event that is determined at least in part by chance with the intent to win something else of value. It is a common and popular social activity that may be illegal in some areas, but is usually considered to be acceptable by the majority of society. Most people who gamble are not addicted to gambling; however, a small percentage of individuals develop an addiction that can lead to serious personal, family and financial consequences. These are often referred to as gambling disorders.

The onset and progression of gambling disorder can be complex, but the basic cause appears to involve a loss of control over impulses. Those who are predisposed to this condition typically exhibit high levels of sensation-and novelty-seeking, low self-esteem, and negative emotionality. In addition, they are prone to lapses in judgment and are easily seduced by the allure of fantasy, wealth, and a sense of power and control.

There is a great deal of debate about whether gambling is addictive. A growing body of research suggests that it is, especially for some people with certain conditions and circumstances. For example, some people who have bipolar disorder or severe depression are at greater risk for developing a gambling problem. Other risk factors include a history of alcohol or drug abuse, and an inability to handle stress.

Those with higher incomes are also more likely to develop a gambling disorder than those who have lower incomes, and men are more susceptible to the condition than women. In addition, those who are younger when they start gambling are more likely to develop an addiction.

There are many ways to overcome a gambling addiction. Getting support from family and friends is critical, as is finding alternative activities that will occupy your time. In addition, there are a number of peer support groups for those with gambling problems, including Gamblers Anonymous and programs modeled after Alcoholics Anonymous. Finally, exercising and other forms of physical activity can help to relieve the urge to gamble. For further assistance, you can also contact a national helpline or a local treatment center. BetterHelp is an online counseling service that matches you with a licensed therapist who can help you with gambling disorder and other issues like depression, anxiety, relationships, and more. Take our free assessment and be connected with a therapist in as little as 24 hours. It’s fast, easy, and completely confidential. Get started today!