Gambling Disorders


Gambling is an activity in which a person places a wager on the outcome of a game, contest or other uncertain event. The wager may involve money, property or something else of value. There are many forms of gambling and it is illegal in some countries. It is a common problem that affects all age groups, and the effects can be severe. People with a gambling disorder may lose control of their financial affairs and find themselves in debt, in trouble with the law or even homeless. In addition, family and friends can be affected. The problem may start during adolescence or later in life. Some people recover from their gambling addiction without professional help, but others need treatment.

The earliest evidence of gambling dates back to 2,300 B.C when tiles were found in China that appeared to be from a rudimentary form of roulette. Throughout the centuries, gambling has evolved to include a variety of games and types. Today, casino games and lotteries are the most popular forms of gambling. They are largely legal and heavily regulated, but they can still have negative consequences for individuals and their families.

Adolescents who have a gambling problem can experience adverse consequences including loss of money and things of value, problems with relationships with friends and family and poor performance at school or work. In extreme cases, problem gambling can lead to homelessness, bankruptcy and suicide. The causes of problem gambling are complex and may be related to family, culture, environment, stress and a range of other factors. It can also be influenced by genetics and temperament.

People with a gambling disorder have difficulty controlling their thoughts and emotions and often feel powerless to stop. They often lie to themselves and others about how much they gamble and hide their activities. In addition, they can become preoccupied with gambling and have persistent thoughts about reliving past experiences, or planning the next venture or ways to make money. They may also try to get even with lost money by chasing losses, which almost always leads to bigger losses.

There are no medications approved for treating gambling disorders, but cognitive behavioral therapy and psychodynamic therapy can be helpful. In addition, support groups can provide valuable information and encouragement to those struggling with a gambling addiction. In some cases, residential treatment and rehabilitation programs may be necessary for those with a severe gambling addiction. Inpatient treatment is generally reserved for those with severe and uncontrolled symptoms and who cannot manage their gambling without round-the-clock support. People who are trying to overcome a gambling addiction should focus on making healthy changes and learn from their mistakes. They should also strengthen their support network and engage in other enjoyable activities. They should never gamble on credit and should not use their gambling money to pay for necessities such as rent or utilities. They should also set money limits and stick to them, and they should not gamble when they are upset or stressed.