The Signs of Gambling Addiction


Gambling involves wagering something of value (the stakes) on an event whose outcome depends on chance, with the intent to win something else of value. The event may be as immediate as a roll of dice or spin of the wheel, or it can extend over longer time frames, such as an entire sports season. Gambling requires three elements to be present: consideration, risk, and a prize.

Some people gamble for fun and enjoyment, while others find that gambling becomes a serious problem that impacts their lives in negative ways. If you or someone you know has a gambling problem, it is important to seek help. There are a variety of treatment options available, including therapy and support groups.

The most common form of gambling involves placing a bet or a wager on the result of an event or a game. This can be done by placing a bet with a casino or other gambling establishment, or through online casinos and other gambling websites. In addition to money, other forms of gambling can involve items that have a monetary value, such as collectible games or marbles.

Many people enjoy gambling for the thrill of winning, the social aspect of it, or as a way to relieve boredom. However, for some people gambling can become a serious addiction that leads to financial and personal problems. Often, the signs of gambling addiction are easy to miss, but there are some telltale signs to look out for:

Using drugs or alcohol in conjunction with gambling. Lying to friends and family members about your gambling habits. Spending more money on gambling than you can afford to lose. Using credit cards to fund your gambling activities. Continuing to gamble even when it interferes with work, school, or relationships.

Pathological gambling (PG) is a severe form of gambling addiction that affects 0.4%-1.6% of Americans. Those with PG often start gambling in adolescence or young adulthood and develop a problem several years later. PG is more common among men than women, and it tends to occur with strategic or face-to-face forms of gambling, such as blackjack or poker.

There are no FDA-approved medications for the treatment of gambling addiction, but cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) can be effective. CBT focuses on changing unhealthy gambling behaviors and thoughts, such as rationalizations or false beliefs. It can also teach you how to manage your urges and solve the problems that gambling causes in your life, such as financial, family, and career issues. In addition to therapy, it is important to treat any underlying conditions that contribute to compulsive gambling, such as depression or bipolar disorder. This could include treatment with medication and lifestyle changes. Family therapy, marriage and divorce counseling, and career and credit counseling can all be useful tools for helping to heal the damage caused by problem gambling.