Recognising Gambling Disorders


Gambling involves placing something of value (usually money) at risk in an event with an element of chance, with the potential to win a higher amount. This can be done in a variety of ways, including purchasing lottery tickets, bingo cards, pokies machines, horse races, dice or sporting events, as well as online gambling. It can be a costly addiction that can cause serious financial and emotional problems.

People may gamble for fun, as a way to socialise, or as a form of stress relief. While most gambling takes place in casinos, it can also be done at bars and clubs, restaurants, gas stations, church halls, or on the internet. It can be dangerous to someone who has an addiction to gambling because they will likely continue the habit even if it causes negative consequences, such as a debt crisis or loss of employment.

There are several effective treatments for gambling disorders, including cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), psychodynamic therapy, and group or family therapy. There are also medications that can be used to treat co-occurring conditions, such as depression or anxiety.

It is important to understand what triggers a person to gamble, and to recognise when it has become a problem. A person’s culture and society can influence their thoughts and values, which in turn can affect their ability to recognise a gambling disorder. In addition, certain personality traits, such as impulsivity, can increase a person’s risk of developing a gambling disorder.

Biologically, human beings are wired to seek rewards. When we experience a reward, the brain releases a chemical called dopamine that makes us feel good. The reward from gambling is similar to the pleasure we get when we spend time with a friend, or eat a delicious meal. This is why some people find it difficult to recognise when their gambling behaviours are out of control.

It can be difficult for a loved one to see that their partner or friend is struggling with gambling, especially if they are winning early on. However, it is important to remember that just because your loved one is winning early doesn’t mean they are not struggling with a gambling addiction. They may be gambling for coping reasons, or because it makes them feel more self-confident.

If your loved one is struggling with gambling, it is important to encourage them to seek help. There are many organisations that provide support and treatment for people with gambling disorders, such as Gamblers Anonymous and state-run assistance programmes. You can also look into residential treatment and rehab programs, which are more intensive than outpatient treatments and are aimed at those who have a severe gambling addiction. They will need round-the-clock care and support to help them recover. Alternatively, you can try to distract them from the urge by doing other activities, or by encouraging them to talk about their feelings with a trained mental health professional. You can also try to establish some ground rules, such as only spending what they can afford to lose, and not relying on other people for funds or gambling-related activities.