Whether you are buying a lottery ticket, betting on the horses, playing video poker or using the pokies, gambling involves risking something of value on an event whose outcome is uncertain. It is also an activity that requires a certain degree of skill, such as the ability to read odds and to make sound judgments about the likelihood of winning.
Gambling can be a lot of fun and many people have occasional flutters on the horses or the lottery. But if you or someone you know is gambling regularly and it’s having a negative impact on their life, then it is important to get help. Taking steps to address problem gambling is vital for the health of your finances, relationships and wellbeing.
Problem gambling can cause a wide range of harms, from financial crisis to family breakdown and even suicide. There is a strong link between mental health and problem gambling, with people suffering from depression or other conditions being more likely to gamble excessively.
There are a number of different types of treatment for gambling disorders, with the most effective approach likely to be cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). This type of treatment can help people learn to resist their urges, challenge irrational beliefs and develop healthy coping strategies. In addition, it is important to recognise that there are no FDA-approved medications to treat gambling disorder, but some medicines may be useful in treating underlying conditions that contribute to the disorder.
Most people are aware that the house always wins in gambling, but most people still gamble because there is a chance – however small – of winning money. Those who gamble excessively often have a false sense of hope that they can make up for their losses by winning more, or use other activities, such as drinking, to distract themselves from their gambling.
Ultimately, there is no cure for gambling addiction, but there are a number of ways to improve your situation. If you have a gambling addiction or know of someone who does, it is essential to seek help, and be open and honest about how the behavior is affecting your life.
In the past, psychiatry viewed pathological gambling as more of a compulsion than an addiction. But in the latest edition of its Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, the American Psychiatric Association has moved it into the chapter on behavioral addictions along with other impulse control disorders, including kleptomania and pyromania. This change reflects new research that shows gambling disorder is similar to substance abuse in terms of brain origin, comorbidity and treatment. The move will also have far-reaching implications for the way psychiatrists diagnose and treat gambling disorders in the future.