How to Recognize a Gambling Disorder


Gambling involves placing a value on an event or game based solely on chance. This can include playing games of chance like scratch-off tickets or video poker, betting with friends on sporting events such as horse racing and the lottery, and even online gambling. Although most people who gamble do so without problems, a small percentage develop an addiction to gambling which can lead to serious financial and personal distress and harm.

While gambling can offer excitement and a temporary rush, it is important to remember that it is not a lucrative way to make money. In fact, it is more likely to cost you money than it is to win it. This is why it is important to set a bankroll and stick to it. You should also avoid chasing losses as this will almost always result in additional losses. Finally, it is important to find healthier ways to cope with boredom and stress such as exercise, spending time with non-gambling friends, and relaxation techniques.

A major problem with gambling is that it can become a substitute for healthy activities such as family and friends, work, or hobbies. A gambling addiction can also interfere with a person’s relationships and career, leading to job loss, debt, and other forms of financial disaster. A gambling problem can be difficult to recognize, but once a person realizes that they have a problem, they can take steps to stop the behavior and regain control of their life.

Whether you play in a casino, at home on your PC, or at the race track, it is essential to know when to quit. It is easy to get caught up in the thrill of winning and lose sight of what is really important. This is particularly dangerous when you’re gambling online, where distractions such as social media and email can suck you in.

The most common cause of gambling addiction is family and peer influence, especially if it starts during childhood or the teenage years. Compulsive gambling also tends to be more common in men than women. Other risk factors for gambling disorder are age, sex, and a history of substance abuse. Gambling disorder has been included in the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) as a behavioral addiction.

There are many ways to treat gambling disorders, including therapy and self-help groups such as Gam-Anon. Many people who have been addicted to gambling have successfully recovered, restoring their lives and repairing their relationships. Realizing you have a problem is the first step to recovery, and it takes tremendous strength and courage to admit it.