How to Recognize and Overcome a Gambling Disorder


Gambling is a behavior that involves risking something of value, such as money or items of value, on an event that depends on chance. It requires three elements: consideration, risk, and a prize. A person may gamble in many ways, including placing a bet on a game of chance, such as the lottery or a casino game; using scratchcards or other games that involve predicting an outcome; or making a wager with friends. While gambling can be a fun and entertaining pastime, it can also lead to problems. A person who has a problem with gambling should seek help.

Individuals who have a problem with gambling may experience emotional, social, and financial challenges. Those who have a severe problem may need to be admitted to an inpatient or residential treatment facility. In these facilities, people will receive specialized care and support from medical professionals and therapists. Treatment can take a long time, but it is possible to overcome a gambling addiction.

Across the United States, gambling is a multibillion-dollar industry. While most people gamble for entertainment, a small number of people develop serious problem gambling. This is called pathological gambling and can cause devastating consequences for the gambler and those who love him or her. Symptoms of a gambling disorder include persistent urges to gamble, unsuccessful attempts to stop gambling, and loss of control over gambling behavior. In addition, a person may experience withdrawal symptoms such as anxiety or depression.

The onset of a gambling disorder usually occurs in young adulthood. In a large contemporary cohort study, participants completed three surveys of gambling behavior at age 17, 20, and 24 years. The data were used to investigate antecedents of regular gambling behavior among young adults.

Univariable analyses indicated that the likelihood of reporting gambling in the past year was higher for males than for females. The likelihood of reporting any gambling in the past year was also higher for individuals with lower socioeconomic status (SES) than for those in the highest SES quartile.

Individuals can learn to recognize warning signs of gambling disorder and develop healthy coping strategies by learning how to manage their finances and avoid gambling-related stress. It is also important to maintain a strong support network and find healthier ways to relieve boredom or unpleasant feelings. These healthy coping behaviors can include exercising, spending time with friends who don’t gamble, taking up new hobbies, and practicing relaxation techniques. It is also helpful to join a peer support group such as Gamblers Anonymous, which is based on the 12-step model of Alcoholics Anonymous. Lastly, family therapy and marriage, career, and credit counseling can also be beneficial. In some cases, a physician may prescribe medications to treat co-occurring disorders, such as depression or anxiety, that can contribute to gambling problems. However, it is important to note that there are currently no FDA-approved medications specifically for the treatment of gambling disorders.

Categories: Gambling