What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Gambling Disorder?


Gambling is the betting of something of value on an event that is determined by chance. People gamble for entertainment, but some people become addicted to gambling, even though they know the risks. Unlike drug addiction, there is no specific test for gambling disorder, but some signs and symptoms include:

A person who has a problem with gambling may be preoccupied with thoughts about gambling, even when they are not actively gambling. They also might lie to family members, friends, and therapists to conceal their involvement in gambling or even commit crimes to fund it. They often jeopardize work or school responsibilities and social relationships because of gambling. They are often unable to stop, and they may even turn to illegal activities such as forgery or theft in order to continue gambling.

Some people have a problem with gambling because of the psychological rewards they receive from it, such as excitement and elation. In addition, many people enjoy the feeling of power that comes from making a large win. This can make gambling attractive, particularly to those who have a low self-esteem or feel that they are not worthy of other types of rewards.

While people typically think of casino games and poker when they hear the word “gambling,” it can encompass many other activities. For example, playing bingo, purchasing lottery tickets, and betting on office pools are forms of gambling. In addition, some people who play online or on television are essentially gambling.

Addiction to gambling is more prevalent than in the past, especially among youth. In fact, some researchers believe that gambling is now the second most common form of addiction after drug addiction. The reason for this is partly because of increased availability and access to gambling products, including the Internet.

There are a number of treatment and recovery programs available to help people with gambling problems, including support groups, individual counseling, and residential or inpatient rehabilitation. One of the most effective treatments is cognitive-behavioral therapy, which teaches a person to challenge irrational beliefs, such as the notion that a series of losses means he or she is due for a big win.

The first step in recovering from gambling is acknowledging that there is a problem. This can be difficult, especially if the person has lost a lot of money or strained or broken important relationships as a result of gambling. Some people also find that getting involved in a peer support group, such as Gamblers Anonymous, helps them stay clean from gambling. The organization is based on the 12-step model of Alcoholics Anonymous, and participants are paired with a sponsor, a former gambler who can provide guidance and support. Another helpful tool is family therapy and marriage, career, and credit counseling. These services can help a person understand the root causes of his or her gambling behavior and lay the foundation for repairing relationships and rebuilding finances. Ultimately, the best treatment is to avoid gambling altogether.