Gambling Disorders


Gambling is a form of entertainment that involves staking something of value, usually money, on a chance to win something else of value, such as a prize or a sports championship. It is an activity that has been practiced throughout history, dating back to the Paleolithic period. Generally, all players have an equal chance of winning. However, some people may be more likely to gamble than others, and gambling behaviors are often influenced by personal and social factors.

Gambling is a risky and addictive activity. In order to avoid it, people need to understand its potential negative consequences and how to control their habits. As a result, many organizations provide support and counseling services to help individuals and families deal with their gambling problems. While it is possible to develop a gambling disorder, most people can learn how to control their behavior.

People who are at high risk for developing a gambling disorder are those with a family history of gambling, who have a history of a substance abuse problem, or who experience trauma. Individuals with a gambling disorder may have difficulty controlling their behavior and will be restless and irritable when trying to stop. They may also be preoccupied with gambling, and have frequent thoughts about it. When they lose control of their gambling habits, they may risk losing their job, school, or a close relationship.

In order to determine whether or not a person has a gambling problem, doctors and mental health professionals use diagnostic criteria. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) lists Gambling Disorder along with other types of addictive behaviors. These disorders have symptoms that can begin as early as adolescence and can continue into adulthood.

The legal age to gamble varies between states, but it generally is between 18 and 21 years of age. Some children celebrate reaching the legal gambling age by visiting a casino. Others may obtain lottery products from legal-age gamblers.

Most youth engage in gambling activities infrequently, if at all. Adolescents and young adults can exhibit pathological gambling, though it is not clearly defined. Regardless of the nature of the gambling, adolescents and young adults are encouraged to get support from friends and family. If a loved one is showing signs of a gambling disorder, they should seek assistance immediately.

Many people have trouble determining whether or not they have a problem with gambling. Those who are in a high risk group should receive professional counseling. This may include individual, group, or family therapy. Counseling can be free. One option is the National Helpline, which is available at 1-800-662-HELP (4357) and can be accessed 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Although no FDA-approved drugs or medications are currently used to treat gambling disorders, a variety of different therapies are available. These include psychodynamic, cognitive behavioral, and family therapy. All of these therapies are confidential and can be accessed through a variety of sources.

Some of the most effective ways to overcome gambling disorder are to seek support, postpone the temptation to gamble, and understand the consequences of your behavior. There are also support groups, such as the National Alliance for Research on Schizophrenia and Depression and the National Council for Responsible Gaming.