Gambling and Pathological Gambling Disorders


Gambling is the risking of something of value, usually money, on an event with some element of chance and with the hope of winning a prize. It can be done with coins, paper tickets, dice, cards, slot machines, instant scratch-off tickets, races, animal tracks, sports events, and more. It is also possible to gamble online. It is important to remember that gambling is an addictive activity and can result in serious harm. It can affect families, friends, relationships and careers. It is important to seek help if you are experiencing harm from gambling. There are many organisations that offer support and assistance to people who have a problem with gambling. They may be able to help you control your gambling or they may be able to assist you in stopping it altogether. They can also provide family therapy, marriage counselling and credit counseling to help you rebuild your financial situation. Some of these organisations can even provide support for your children.

Pathological gambling (PG) is a disorder in which a person has persistent and recurrent maladaptive patterns of gambling behavior, which are characterized by an inability to control their impulses and to stop the behavior. The PG spectrum ranges from gambling behaviors that place individuals at risk for developing more severe problems (subclinical) to those behaviors that would meet diagnostic criteria in the DSM-IV (pathological). Men appear to develop a PG diagnosis at a higher rate than women and tend to start gambling earlier in life.

While a large majority of people who gamble do so responsibly, some are not. Those who have a problem with gambling can lose a great deal of money, as well as their lives, careers and relationships. Those who are at risk for gambling disorders often have underlying mood disorders such as depression, anxiety and substance abuse. These disorders can trigger or worsen gambling disorders and can make recovery more difficult.

Those with a gambling disorder are not always aware of their problem and can hide their behaviour from others. They may try to justify their actions by saying that they enjoy the excitement and the thrill of gambling. They may also attempt to control their gambling by hiding money or using different accounts or websites to conceal their gambling activities. They may also lie about their spending and even lie to friends and family members.

Those with a gambling disorder are often influenced by peer pressure. They may be exposed to gambling ads, social media messages and wall-to-wall advertising at sporting venues. Moreover, they may be tempted by their friends who have gambling problems and feel that they can relate to them. Consequently, it is important to seek the support of a friend or family member or join a self-help group such as Gamblers Anonymous. In addition, it is important to set limits when gambling. It is recommended to only gamble with disposable income and never to use money that you need for paying bills or rent. It is also helpful to set time limits when gambling and to leave the casino when you reach this limit, whether you are winning or losing.