Gambling Disorder

Gambling involves wagering something of value on an event that has a high degree of randomness or chance, such as playing card games, fruit machines or betting on football accumulators. It also includes activities such as lottery, raffles and bingo. It does not include bona fide business transactions valid under law, or contracts of insurance or guaranty (e.g. life, health or accident insurance).

A person can experience gambling disorder at any age and it is equally likely to affect men and women. The condition can be triggered by trauma or other events, and may run in families. It can be difficult to stop gambling once it becomes a problem and it often leads to debt, bankruptcy and depression. Some people have been able to overcome the condition on their own, but others need professional help. Treatment for gambling disorder varies and may include cognitive behavioral therapy, psychodynamic therapy and family and marriage counseling.

While there is considerable consensus that gambling involves impulsive behavior, the exact nature of this impulsiveness has not been well established. It is believed that sensation-seeking, arousal and negative emotionality play a role in the development of gambling behavior.

A key factor in overcoming gambling problems is support. It is important to have friends and family who can provide encouragement, guidance and accountability. It is also helpful to join a peer support group, such as Gamblers Anonymous or a self-help program for families, like Gam-Anon.