Problem Gambling

Gambling is the risking of something of value (money or property) on an event that is determined at least in part by chance, with the hope of gaining something of greater value. While the term “gambling” is often associated with casinos and other places where large sums of money are wagered, gambling also occurs in gas stations, church halls, at sporting events, on the Internet, and many other settings. Some people gamble to relieve stress, change their moods, socialize with friends or family, or challenge themselves intellectually. Others do so because they believe that winning big will improve their lives. Regardless of their motives, some people find that they are unable to control their gambling behavior and become dependent on the euphoria that it produces.

Despite the wide availability and popularity of gambling, not all people who participate in it experience problems. In general, a person’s chances of becoming addicted to gambling increase with the frequency, amount and duration of the activity. In addition, the severity of a person’s problem can be influenced by genetic and environmental factors as well as by the degree to which his or her social environment supports gambling.

The nomenclature used to describe gambling and problem gambling is complex and sometimes confusing. This is because researchers, psychiatrists and other treatment care clinicians, and public policy makers all tend to frame questions about gambling differently depending on their disciplinary background, training, and interests. As a result, they tend to use different paradigms or world views from which to consider gambling and gambling problems.

As a result of these differences, there is considerable disagreement about the concept and definition of gambling and about levels of addiction. Moreover, there are disagreements about whether gambling is best classified as a behavioral or psychological disorder and about the similarities of gambling disorders to other types of addiction.

People with gambling disorder may hide their behavior from friends and family members or lie about how much they gamble. They might be secretive about their spending or even steal money from family members to fund their gambling activities. They might continue to gamble even when they are broke, upping their bets in a desperate attempt to win back their losses.

For loved ones of people with gambling disorder, there are many ways to support them and help them break their addictive habits. These can include psychotherapy, which focuses on how unconscious processes influence our behavior and relationships. It can be helpful to find a counselor who is familiar with problem gambling or with other addictions. There are also support groups for families of people with gambling disorder, such as those modeled on Alcoholics Anonymous, that can offer encouragement and education. Also, it is important to take good care of yourself, as stress and depression can exacerbate symptoms of gambling disorder. This can be done through exercise, healthy eating, getting enough sleep and connecting with other family members. These connections can be a source of strength and motivation to overcome the disorder.