Gambling is a popular pastime for many people, but for some it can be problematic. It can cause financial, legal, and emotional problems for individuals and their families. In some cases, it can lead to suicide and homelessness. This article provides information on how gambling works, how to recognize a problem, and what to do if you or someone you know has a gambling disorder.
A gambling disorder is a condition in which an individual loses control over their gaming activities and may not be able to stop despite attempts to do so. This condition is sometimes referred to as pathological gambling or compulsive gambling. It is a psychiatric disorder that has been recognized by the American Psychiatric Association and is included in its Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) under behavioral addictions. This reclassification is an attempt to increase recognition and acceptance of this disorder, which shares characteristics with substance-related disorders in clinical expression, brain origin, comorbidity and physiology.
Those with gambling disorders can’t control their gaming activities, which have serious consequences for them and their family members. They may gamble more than they can afford to lose, and their losses will affect their relationships, job performance, school or career goals, and health. They may lie to conceal the extent of their involvement with gambling, and they may even jeopardize their personal safety in an effort to fund their habit. They also experience a high rate of relapse and are more likely to seek help from family and friends than those without a gambling disorder.
While some people gamble because they enjoy the thrill of winning, others do it to change their mood, relieve boredom, or socialize with friends. A study published in International Gambling Studies found that some players gamble to feel a sense of euphoria, which is associated with the brain’s reward system. Regardless of why you gamble, it is important to keep in mind that there are better and safer ways to relieve unpleasant feelings than risking money.
When you gamble, make sure to only spend what you can afford to lose and play for fun. Remember that the odds are always against you and you will most likely lose. It is a good idea to set a time limit before you begin and leave once that limit is reached, whether you are winning or losing. Moreover, don’t chase your losses, as the more you try to get back what you have lost, the more you will lose in the long run. Furthermore, never gamble when you are feeling depressed or upset, as these feelings can trigger gambling behavior and exacerbate existing mood disorders. Lastly, do not use credit to fund your gambling activity and do not gamble when you are tired or hungry. These factors can also contribute to gambling disorders and interfere with your ability to manage your finances responsibly. Seek help for underlying mood disorders if needed.