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What Is a Gambling Disorder?


Gambling is the risking of something of value (the stakes) on an event whose outcome is uncertain and for which there is the hope of winning something else of value (the prize). It involves three elements: consideration, risk, and chance. The outcome may be immediate, such as a roll of a dice, spin of a wheel, or the flip of a coin; it can also be over a longer time span, such as the duration of a sports contest or a season. The prize can be money or a tangible object.

A person who is addicted to gambling shows compulsive behaviors related to their gambling, such as: impulsivity; difficulty controlling their behavior; continuing to gamble even when they are losing money; lying to family members, friends, and therapists in order to conceal their involvement; committing illegal acts, such as forgery, fraud, theft, or embezzlement, to fund their gambling; stealing or robbing from family or coworkers to fund their gambling; spending more time than usual on gambling activities; relying on others to provide them with money for gambling; and jeopardizing or forfeiting relationships, employment, educational opportunities, or other financial benefits as a result of gambling. In addition, a person with a gambling disorder may exhibit co-occurring mental health problems, such as depression or anxiety.

Although the vast majority of people who engage in gambling do so for entertainment purposes and are not afflicted with a gambling disorder, some are unable to stop gambling or control their gambling behaviors. The onset of pathological gambling is usually influenced by environmental and familial factors, and the prevalence of the disorder increases with age. It has been estimated that about two million Americans have a gambling disorder.

While there is no cure for gambling disorders, several types of psychotherapy can help. These methods can be used individually or in combination and include cognitive behavioral therapy, family-based treatment, psychoeducation, and relapse prevention. They aim to teach a person new skills to manage their gambling behavior and to improve their quality of life. In addition, they can teach a person how to recognize and respond to urges to gamble. It is important to realize that there are no FDA-approved medications for the treatment of gambling disorder, but some medications can help treat co-occurring conditions. Also, it is important to know that gambling should only be done with disposable income and not money needed for daily living expenses. Gambling is a fun and exciting activity that can lead to big wins, but it is important to remember that there is always the possibility of losing. If a person is not enjoying gambling anymore, they should consider stopping. They should also try to spend more time with their family and friends, and find other ways to enjoy themselves. They should also set a gambling budget and stick to it. This will help them avoid spending money that they should be saving for other things. It is also a good idea to practice games online before playing them in a casino, and never play with money that they cannot afford to lose.