Gambling Disorders


Gambling involves wagering something of value on an event that has an element of chance and a prize associated with the outcome. The wagering can be on anything from scratchcards to lotteries, sports events or even betting with friends. It can be considered a form of recreation or entertainment but is also sometimes considered a vice and a human weakness. However, a person does not engage in gambling when they gamble with bona fide business transactions that are valid under the law of contracts, such as purchasing or selling securities and commodities, contracts of indemnity or guaranty and life, health or accident insurance.

The psychological components of gambling include an inflated sense of control, a false perception that risk is proportional to potential reward and the illusion that the outcome of a game or event is predictable. The reward schedule for gambling products is optimized to provide just enough illusory input and feedback to keep players coming back, just like in games.

Several types of therapy can be used to address problems related to gambling, including cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), psychodynamic therapy and family or group therapy. In some cases, medication may be needed. Medications that have been found to be effective include antidepressants and mood stabilizers. It is important to note that gambling disorders are a complex phenomenon. Different treatments work better for different people, and they can have varying degrees of success.

Research is ongoing to determine the best way to treat gambling disorders. One method that has been proven to be effective is longitudinal data collection, which allows researchers to identify a range of factors that moderate or exacerbate the gambling behavior of individuals. The use of longitudinal data may prove more cost-efficient in the long run than creating many smaller studies that focus on specific variables over short periods of time.

Individuals who have a gambling disorder should seek help if they experience any of the following symptoms: Losses are disproportionate to the amount wagered; Has lied to family members, therapists or others in order to conceal the extent of involvement with gambling; Is engaged in illegal activities to fund gambling; or Has jeopardized a relationship, career or educational opportunity due to the use of gambling money. Those who are in need of treatment should consider residential or inpatient programs. In addition, people with underlying mood disorders should seek treatment as these can make gambling even more problematic. Mood disorders such as depression, anxiety and stress can often trigger or be made worse by gambling. They can also cause gambling addiction. It is often a vicious circle as the gambler attempts to overcome his or her gambling addiction by taking on other addictive behaviors.