Gambling Disorders – What Is Pathological Gambling?


Gambling is when a person stakes something of value on an event that involves chance, and the result can be anything from a small amount to a life-changing jackpot. It can involve games such as slot machines, roulette, blackjack, baccarat, poker and bingo, as well as events like horse racing, football matches, or lottery draws. It can take place in brick-and-mortar casinos, at gas stations and church halls, or on the Internet.

Problem gambling can have a devastating impact on individuals and their families. It can lead to debt, legal problems, bankruptcy, and even suicide. It can also have serious health implications, especially when it affects children. The good news is that help is available. But, as with any illness, people with gambling disorders must be willing to seek treatment.

Pathological gambling (PG) is a psychiatric disorder characterized by persistent and recurrent maladaptive patterns of gambling behavior. Symptoms of PG usually begin in adolescence or young adulthood, and may be more common in men than women. PG is associated with a number of risk factors, including family history, childhood trauma, and social inequality, particularly in women. It can run in families, and is more likely to occur if the person was exposed to family members who have a gambling problem.

Psychiatric diagnosis and treatment of gambling disorder is complicated by the fact that the symptoms of this condition overlap with those of other conditions, such as depression or anxiety. Furthermore, some medications that treat these other conditions can trigger gambling disorders. Because of this, it is important to be evaluated by a mental health professional who is familiar with these issues.

Although a range of interventions are available, the effectiveness of these therapies has not been systematically assessed. However, some studies suggest that cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) may be useful in addressing gambling disorders. This approach uses specific techniques to change problematic behaviors and replace them with more adaptive behaviors. CBT is a form of psychotherapy that involves working with a licensed clinical counselor.

If you have a loved one with a gambling addiction, it is important to get support for yourself and your family. Reach out to friends and family, or join a self-help group for families such as Gam-Anon. You can also find support by calling a national helpline or attending a meeting of Gamblers Anonymous. You can also try to postpone gambling, which can help you resist the urge. Also, make sure that you have other ways to relieve boredom or stress, such as exercising, spending time with friends who don’t gamble, and trying out new activities. You can also consider taking over control of the household finances, so that your loved one’s money is not at risk. By limiting the availability of credit, you can reduce your loved one’s ability to gamble.