Pathological Gambling


Gambling is the risking of something of value on an uncertain event, with awareness of the risks and in hope of a gain. It varies from the purchase of lottery tickets by people with little money, to sophisticated casino gambling for profit or as a pastime. Skilled gamblers can use strategies to increase their odds of winning but the final outcome of a gambling event is ultimately determined by chance.

A person may have a psychological problem with gambling if they engage in it excessively and it leads to adverse consequences for them and others. This is called pathological gambling. The understanding of pathological gambling has changed dramatically since the first edition of DSM-III in 1980. Prior to this, the American Psychiatric Association did not consider it to be an addiction, but rather as a disorder of impulse control (Lesieur, 1984).

It is also important to remember that not all gambling behavior is necessarily problematic. The vast majority of gamblers play for social or recreational purposes and do not have a problem with their gambling. Those who do experience problems with their gambling do so on a much more limited scale, and their severity is not as great as that of people with substance abuse problems.

In the last couple of decades, research has shown that gambling is associated with a variety of negative consequences for both the gambler and their family members. These include financial problems, health issues and even legal trouble. The extent of these problems depends on the level of involvement in gambling, its duration and its frequency.

While the occurrence of problem gambling is influenced by genetics and environment, it has been found that certain individuals are predisposed to developing a gambling disorder. There is also a growing body of evidence that gambling disorders can be treated using various therapies including cognitive behavioral therapy.

Many people don’t know how to identify the signs of a gambling problem. They may not be able to recognise the warning signs in themselves or they might hide their gambling activity from friends and family. In some cases, they might even lie to their loved ones about how much they spend on gambling.

Gambling has been a part of human society for as long as humans have been around. Dice games have been found among the Bushmen of South Africa, Australian aborigines and American Indians. It was a big part of Western culture in the 1800s when Mississippi riverboats and Wild West towns offered gambling opportunities for visitors. However, in the early 20th century moral conservatism began to take hold and gambling lost popularity.

A gambling addiction can be hard to spot, especially for a family member. Your loved one might try to convince you that their problem is just a minor inconvenience. They might even say that they gamble to relieve stress or to improve their mental wellbeing. Regardless of their reasons, you should be aware of the potential for gambling to become a problem and take action as soon as possible.