What is Gambling Disorder?September 28, 2023
Gambling involves placing something of value (usually money) on an event whose outcome is determined by chance. This can include games like lotteries, scratchcards, fruit machines, betting with friends, sports betting, and online games. The amount of money legally wagered annually is thought to be about $10 trillion. This does not include illegal gambling, which may be much higher. Gambling can be addictive and cause harm to personal relationships, finances, and employment. It can also trigger or make worse mood disorders such as depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorder.
Although most people have gambled at some point, only a small number develop a problem with gambling. This is called gambling disorder and is characterized by an irresistible urge to bet and the inability to control or stop gambling. It can occur in people of all ages and backgrounds, although it is more common in men than women. It is also more likely to run in families.
The causes of gambling disorder are complex. Several different factors can contribute to it, including genetics, childhood trauma, and social inequality. In addition, it is thought to be more common in people who have a history of mood problems such as depression or anxiety. It can also be triggered by stressful events, such as job loss or an argument with a loved one.
People who gamble are more likely to be vulnerable if they have lower incomes or more to gain from a win, and young people are especially susceptible. It is estimated that up to 5% of adolescents and young adults who gamble develop gambling disorder. People with a history of alcohol or substance abuse are also more at risk.
A therapist can help you understand and change your unhealthy gambling behaviors. Treatment options may include cognitive behavioral therapy, psychodynamic therapy, group therapy, and family therapy. Treatment can also involve addressing any underlying conditions that are contributing to your compulsive gambling.
For example, if you’re gambling as a way to relieve unpleasant feelings or to feel better about yourself, it’s important to find healthier ways of dealing with these emotions. You can try exercising, spending time with non-gambling friends, and practicing relaxation techniques.
It’s also important to set boundaries in how you manage your money. This can be done by limiting access to credit cards, having someone else be in charge of your money, closing your online betting accounts, and keeping only a limited amount of cash on you at all times. You can also seek financial, marriage, career, and credit counseling. This can help you deal with the fallout from your gambling disorder and set you on a path to recovery. In some cases, you may need to enter a residential or inpatient treatment program for compulsive gambling disorder if your symptoms are severe. This type of treatment will provide round-the-clock support and supervision for those who require it. It’s also important to know that there are a number of online support groups for people with gambling disorder.