Gambling Disorders

Gambling is a risky activity that involves betting something of value on the outcome of a random event. It can take many forms, from playing card games or board games with friends for small amounts of money to placing bets on a football accumulator or buying a lottery ticket. Some people take gambling seriously enough to make it their livelihood, and professional gamblers use knowledge, skill and strategy to improve their chances of winning. But for some, gambling can become a serious problem that affects health and well-being, relationships and performance at work or school.

People who suffer from a gambling disorder are often secretive about their behavior and lie to others about how much they spend, thinking they will win back the money they lost. Symptoms can start in adolescence or later in life, and can cause problems at work or home, harming family relationships, and causing financial hardship. Some people who have a gambling disorder may even attempt suicide.

The most common cause of a gambling disorder is a family history of the condition, but other factors can contribute to it, including past trauma or social inequality, particularly in women. Some people may start gambling as a way to relieve stress or escape from other worries, but the more they gamble, the more they lose control and are likely to experience symptoms of a gambling disorder.

Research shows that gambling disorders are similar to other substance-related psychiatric disorders in terms of clinical expression, brain origin, comorbidity and treatment. In fact, the DSM-5 places Gambling Disorder in a new category that recognizes that gambling is an addictive behavior and a treatable mental illness.

While the DSM-5 reclassification is an important step in acknowledging that gambling disorder is a treatable condition, there is still much more work to be done. There are several different types of therapy available for people who have a gambling disorder, and a variety of medications that can help people manage their symptoms. Ultimately, it is up to the person with a gambling disorder to decide whether or not they want to seek treatment.

While some people can stop gambling on their own, most need help. Counseling can help people understand their gambling behaviors, think about how they are affected by them and consider options for change. Some people also benefit from the support of family and friends, and there are a number of self-help groups for people who have a gambling disorder. In addition, there are a number of medications that can help people deal with their cravings and manage gambling-related impulsivity. However, the only true cure for a gambling disorder is to quit gambling altogether. This can be difficult, but it is possible to recover from a gambling disorder with hard work and commitment.