Gambling Disorders

Gambling involves wagering something of value on an event that is based on chance. It’s a form of risk-taking that can involve a variety of different activities, including betting on sports events, playing games like slots or roulette, buying scratch-off tickets or lottery tickets, and even playing video games with gambling elements. Some people can gamble responsibly, but others can develop a problem that threatens their health and relationships.

People with gambling problems may hide their behavior from loved ones or lie about it to keep their addiction secret. They might also engage in unhealthy behaviors, such as spending more time gambling than with family or friends, or using gambling as a way to relieve boredom or stress. People with gambling disorders are also at higher risk for developing depression and anxiety.

Until recently, the psychiatric community largely regarded pathological gambling as a compulsion rather than an addiction, and it was included in the Impulse Control Disorders section of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). But in 2013, with the publication of DSM-5, the APA moved pathological gambling to the Addictions chapter.

Those struggling with gambling problems can find help by talking to a therapist who is trained in the condition. Treatment options include psychotherapy and group therapy. Individuals can also find support by joining Gamblers Anonymous, a 12-step recovery program modelled after Alcoholics Anonymous. Other useful strategies include strengthening relationships with supportive friends and family, seeking out other forms of socialising, such as joining a book club or sporting team, taking up new hobbies or practicing relaxation techniques.