Identifying the Signs and Symptoms of Gambling Addiction
Gambling is a common pastime that involves risking something of value, often money, for the chance to win something of greater value. It can involve a wide range of activities, from buying a Lotto ticket to placing a bet on a football match or scratchcard. The outcome of any gamble is based on luck and chance rather than skill. Some people are unable to control their gambling and it becomes a problem that affects their family, work, and health. In some cases, it can even lead to suicide.
While most people have a flutter on the lottery or go to the casino now and again, it’s important to understand how gambling works so that you can keep your gambling habits in check. It’s also important to know that gambling products are designed to make you keep gambling and can lead to addiction.
Pathological gambling (PG) is a disorder characterized by persistent and recurrent maladaptive patterns of gambling behaviors that result in significant problems for the gambler. It is estimated that between 0.4-1.6% of Americans meet criteria for PG. PG typically begins in adolescence or young adulthood and tends to be more prevalent among males than females. PG is classified in the psychiatric literature as an impulse-control disorder, similar to kleptomania and pyromania, but was moved to the Addictions chapter in DSM-5.
Studies of gambling behavior have traditionally used cross-sectional designs to assess participant characteristics and determine whether they are at risk for developing a gambling disorder. However, longitudinal data may provide a more accurate assessment of the prevalence and risk factors for PG. Compared to cross-sectional data, longitudinal studies are more likely to be conducted with large numbers of participants and have the added benefit of allowing researchers to test the effects of various treatment approaches over time.
Identifying the signs and symptoms of gambling addiction is an essential first step in seeking help. Some of the key indicators include:
Downplaying or lying to loved ones about your gambling habits. Relying on other people to fund your gambling or to replace the money you have lost. Continuing to gamble even when it negatively impacts your finances, career, education or personal relationships.
Many people struggle with a gambling addiction, but they can overcome it. The first step is to recognize that you have a problem, which can be a hard realization for some. Then, reach out to a support network for help. This can be as simple as joining a book club or sports team, or as involved as finding a sponsor through Gamblers Anonymous. Alternatively, you can try a peer-support program such as Alcoholics Anonymous, which is modeled after the 12-step approach to overcoming substance abuse. If you have a difficult time admitting that you have a problem, therapy is an option to consider. Get matched with a therapist today through the world’s largest online therapy service. You can connect with a licensed, vetted professional in as little as 48 hours.
Gambling is a common pastime that involves risking something of value, often money, for the chance to win something of greater value. It can involve a wide range of activities, from buying a Lotto ticket to placing a bet on a football match or scratchcard. The outcome of any gamble is based on luck and…