Gambling Addiction

Gambling Addiction


Gambling is an activity where an individual stakes something of value on a chance event with the intent of winning a prize. This can be done in a casino, at a horse race or even online. Many people find that gambling is enjoyable, but for others it can be dangerous. It can ruin relationships, cause financial strain, impair health and even lead to homelessness.

Those who gamble often feel like they are in control, but the truth is that the odds always favor the house. Furthermore, the brain’s reward system is activated when a person gambles, and it may become overstimulated. As a result, a person may begin to gamble more and more in order to experience the same level of pleasure.

For some, gambling is a social activity where they spend time with friends. Others enjoy the chance to escape from reality and be surrounded by different sights, sounds and emotions. They may also believe that gambling is a low risk, high reward entertainment choice. However, gambling can actually be a high risk, low reward activity that is addictive.

While some people are genetically predisposed to thrill-seeking behavior, others may be more prone to gambling problems because of their brain structure and how they process rewards and impulses. In addition, some communities have a strong cultural influence that can make it difficult to recognize a problem. For example, some religious people consider gambling to be sinful.

There are a number of ways to address a gambling addiction. Counseling can help a person understand their problem and find other activities to pursue that are more fulfilling. In addition, family members can learn how to support their loved one’s recovery. Lastly, a person suffering from a gambling addiction can join a support group to receive encouragement and guidance from others who have overcome their condition.

Several studies have been conducted to determine the causes of gambling addiction, and the results indicate that it is a complex problem. There is no single cause, but a combination of factors including a genetic predisposition, environmental influences and psychological and emotional stressors can contribute to the development of gambling disorder.

The DSM-5 now includes gambling disorder as a behavioral addiction, and it is considered to be similar to other substance-related disorders in terms of clinical expression, brain origin, comorbidity and physiology. In addition, research has shown that all types of gambling can be problematic for some individuals. The DSM-5 decision reflects that not all forms of gambling are equally addictive, and that problems can occur with lottery gambling, casino games (e.g., slot machines), sports gambling and other activities. This new classification may help to improve the quality of treatment for gambling disorder. For more information, see Gabbard’s Treatment of Psychiatric Disorders, Fifth Edition, American Psychiatric Publishing.