What Is Gambling Addiction?


Gambling involves wagering money or something of value on an event with a random outcome and the intention of winning a prize. It includes all forms of gaming where skill is not an important factor, such as slot machines, bingo, and poker. There are four main reasons people gamble: for social reasons, to get a rush or “high,” for entertainment, and to make money. People may also gamble to relieve unpleasant feelings, such as loneliness or boredom.

Pathological gambling (PG) is an impulse control disorder characterized by compulsive, maladaptive patterns of gambling behavior that are accompanied by distressing moods or symptoms. PG is a subset of psychiatric disorders involving gambling, and it can be treated with psychotherapy and medications. Symptoms of PG vary from person to person, but they typically include:

According to some research, a number of biological factors can contribute to a person’s vulnerability to gambling addiction. These factors may include a genetic predisposition to thrill-seeking behaviours and impulsivity, as well as differences in the way individuals process reward information and weigh risk. Some people may also have an underactive brain reward system, which can affect their ability to inhibit impulsive behaviours and control their gambling activity.

Studies have shown that some people who engage in gambling are at higher risk for developing an addictive disorder than others, particularly those who start gambling as adolescents or young adults. Males appear to be more likely to develop a PG diagnosis than females, and they tend to begin gambling at a younger age. In addition, males who have a PG diagnosis are more likely to report problems with strategic, face-to-face forms of gambling, such as blackjack or poker, than females who have a PG diagnosis.

Gambling is an activity that involves risk and chance, and it can lead to financial problems. Those who gamble should consider budgeting for this expense, just like they would for any other expense, so that they do not go overboard and end up in financial trouble. In addition, they should avoid chasing their losses by thinking that they will be lucky and recoup their lost funds. This is known as the gambler’s fallacy and is a common mistake made by those who are prone to gambling addiction.

If you have a problem with gambling, it is important to seek help. There are many organizations that offer gambling addiction treatment, including individual and family therapy, as well as marriage, career, and credit counseling. In addition, you can seek support from peers in a peer support group, such as Gamblers Anonymous, which is modeled on Alcoholics Anonymous. You can also find resources on the Internet that offer advice for overcoming gambling addiction. Lastly, you can strengthen your support network by spending time with friends who do not gamble or by finding new activities that you enjoy that do not involve gambling. For example, you can try a new hobby, exercise, take up a book club, or volunteer to support a cause that you care about.