Recognising the Signs of Gambling Addiction


Many people gamble for fun or to socialise, but some develop a problem. It’s important to recognise the signs of gambling addiction and seek treatment if necessary. The good news is that there are lots of support services available to help you get back on track.

Gambling is an activity in which a person risks something of value on an event whose outcome is determined by chance or skill. This can include everything from playing card games with friends for small amounts of money to buying lottery tickets or betting on sports events. However, the definition of gambling varies by state law. In the US, it is illegal to wager money or anything else of value on an event with a 50-50 chance of winning.

Most adults and adolescents have placed some kind of bet, but a significant subset go on to develop a gambling disorder, as described in the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5). A person with a gambling disorder may experience severe impairment and distress and have a hard time controlling their impulses or managing their money.

While there are no guarantees, the best way to prevent a gambling problem is to be aware of the risks and set limits on how much you can spend. Developing a strong support network can also help, especially if you live alone. This can be done by reaching out to friends and family, joining a book club or sports team, or taking up new hobbies. Practicing mindfulness techniques such as meditation or deep breathing can also be helpful in reducing stress.

It’s important to note that not all forms of gambling are considered to be illegal, and there are many people who make a living from playing poker or online casinos. These professionals are known as “professional gamblers.” They typically have a thorough understanding of the game they play, and they use strategy and skill to win. Those who gamble for small amounts of money, such as by participating in friendly card or board game tournaments or purchasing lottery tickets, are referred to as casual gamblers. They often do not consider themselves to be professional gamblers, and they may not be aware of the psychological risks involved in the activity.

Several factors can contribute to the development of a gambling addiction, including personality traits and coexisting mental health conditions. For example, risk-taking behaviors and impulsivity are common among individuals with mood disorders. They are more likely to engage in unhealthy coping behaviors, such as drinking or gambling, when they feel anxious or stressed. They are also more likely to develop a gambling addiction if they were exposed to it at an early age, and they can have a harder time controlling their spending habits.

People who are more susceptible to developing a gambling problem include those with low incomes, as they have less to lose and more to gain from a big win. Young people, particularly men, are also more likely to develop a gambling disorder than others. These individuals are at higher risk for developing a gambling disorder because they are more likely to be influenced by peers, and they tend to start gambling at a younger age than other groups.