Do You Have a Gambling Disorder?


Gambling is an activity in which you wager something of value (like money or property) on the outcome of a random event. It can be done in a variety of ways, from putting money on the winning numbers of the lottery to placing bets with friends during a game of cards. Gambling is legal in most countries, but some people can become addicted to it.

While gambling is a popular pastime, it can also be very dangerous. If you have a problem with gambling, it can damage your relationships, hurt your job performance and even lead to bankruptcy. If you’re worried that you might have a gambling disorder, it’s important to seek help right away.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not approve any medications to treat gambling disorder, but several types of psychotherapy can help you overcome your unhealthy emotions, thoughts and behaviors. These treatments may include cognitive behavioral therapy, which helps you unlearn negative and obsessive patterns of thinking and behavior. Motivational interviewing is another common psychotherapy technique. This type of treatment empowers you to solve your uncertainty about healthy change by analyzing your gambling behavior and comparing it with the gambling patterns of others.

Many people start gambling as a way to self-soothe unpleasant feelings or relieve boredom, but it can quickly become a habit. When you gamble, your brain releases a chemical called dopamine, which makes you feel happy and satisfied. This is why it can be so hard to stop gambling once you begin. However, there are other ways to cope with stress and boredom, such as exercising, spending time with friends who don’t gamble or taking up new hobbies.

People who suffer from gambling disorder experience intense urges to gamble and often can’t control their spending or stop gambling even when it causes problems. They also may lie to family and friends or attempt to hide their gambling from them. Some people with this condition have periods of time when their symptoms disappear, but they can return at any time.

Some people develop a gambling addiction in early adulthood, while others struggle with the problem throughout their lives. Several factors increase the risk of developing a gambling disorder, including genetics and a history of depression or other mental health conditions. Other risk factors include poverty, unemployment, family and social pressures to gamble and media portrayals of gambling as a fun and rewarding activity.

Those with gambling disorders may find themselves engaging in risky or harmful behaviors to compensate for their lack of fulfillment, such as drinking or taking illegal drugs. They may also be at increased risk of suicide. Those who are at risk of developing a gambling disorder should seek help from a trained mental health professional as soon as possible. In addition to individual counseling, group and family therapy can be helpful. Those who have serious problem gambling issues may benefit from inpatient or residential treatment programs. These programs offer round-the-clock support and care.