Dealing With Gambling Disorders


Gambling is a game of chance in which people stake something of value, such as money or possessions, in the hope of winning a prize. It can be done in casinos, racetracks, online, or at home with a video poker machine or a lottery ticket. The prize can be anything from a small amount of cash to a life-changing jackpot. While gambling is generally seen as a fun and harmless pastime, some people develop a serious problem that affects their personal and professional lives. People with a gambling disorder need help to overcome their addiction, and may benefit from therapy, support groups, or self-help programs, such as Alcoholics Anonymous or Gamblers Anonymous.

Various theories have been proposed to explain why some people gamble compulsively. These include recreational interest, a desire to experience altered emotional states, impaired judgment and cognitive distortions, an underlying mood disorder, or moral turpitude. Regardless of the theory, it is clear that there are significant consequences associated with excessive gambling and that the behavior needs to be addressed in order to prevent negative outcomes.

The first step to dealing with a gambling problem is admitting that you have one. This can be difficult, especially if you have lost a lot of money or have strained or broken relationships because of your gambling habits. However, it is important to remember that there are many people who have recovered from gambling disorders and are leading successful lives.

To break the gambling habit, it is important to remove the opportunity for it to occur by avoiding gambling places and online betting websites. Also, make sure to get rid of credit cards and let someone else be in charge of your finances, close online betting accounts, and keep a limited amount of cash with you at all times. It is also helpful to learn healthier ways to relieve unpleasant emotions and boredom, such as exercising, spending time with friends who don’t gamble, or taking up new hobbies.

Longitudinal studies of gambling are essential to understanding the causes and effects of pathological gambling, but they have proven challenging to conduct because of financial, logistical, and ethical considerations. For example, it is often impossible to maintain a longitudinal study over a long period of time; there are challenges to maintaining research team continuity and consistency; and it is difficult to control for aging and period effects.

Despite the barriers to conducting longitudinal studies, it is imperative that such work continue. The results of such studies can help to inform treatment and prevention initiatives, to establish a definition for pathological gambling, and to develop effective interventions. In addition, such work can serve to distinguish between individuals who are progressing toward a pathological state from those who have already met the criteria for a diagnosis of pathological gambling in the DSM-IV. Such distinctions are critical to a comprehensive understanding of the nature and causes of gambling problems. A standardized nomenclature is also needed to accommodate the varying perspectives of researchers, psychiatrists, other treatment care clinicians, and others who have an interest in this area.