Pathological GamblingJuly 25, 2023
Gambling is the wagering of something of value, usually money, on a random event with the intent of winning something else of value (the “prize”). It involves risk, consideration, and an opportunity for gain. In the United States, gambling has a long and complicated history that includes both legal and illegal activity. While many people gamble responsibly, some find themselves gambling compulsively, and this can have serious consequences for them and their families.
The term “gambling” encompasses several different activities, including lotteries, sports betting, horse racing, and card games. It also includes the use of devices such as slot machines and video poker to play games. It can be conducted with cash or with items that have a monetary value, such as marbles, playing cards, coins, or other merchandise. The amount of money wagered on these activities is estimated to be in excess of $10 trillion per year, with the largest share being placed in state-licensed lotteries and the second biggest in casino gaming.
While the majority of people gamble for recreational purposes, some individuals become addicted to gambling and develop a disorder known as pathological gambling or compulsive gambling. It is estimated that at least 1 in 10 people suffer from this problem. Pathological gambling has significant negative effects on the gambler’s life and relationships, and can result in debt, credit problems, and even legal issues. It can also cause emotional distress and suicidal thoughts. Despite the significant social and economic costs, pathological gambling is often underdiagnosed and undertreated.
Researchers have sought to understand the underlying causes of gambling disorders, and are beginning to establish a set of behavioral treatments for them. A significant body of research supports the effectiveness of cognitive-behavioral therapies for pathological gambling, especially when combined with family and peer support. Intensive outpatient programs are also effective for some patients.
A number of psychological and motivational factors appear to contribute to the development of gambling disorders, some of which are related to a person’s perceptions of odds. For example, a person may be influenced by the Gambler’s Fallacy, which is the erroneous belief that because an outcome has not happened recently it is more likely to occur in the future. This misconception is similar to the illusory superiority effect, which occurs in many types of decision making.
If you or someone you know has a problem with gambling, it is important to seek help. The first step is to recognize that there is a problem. Then, with the help of a counselor, you can take steps to stop gambling and reclaim your life. Click below to get matched with a therapist now. It’s free, confidential, and available 24/7.