How to Recognise If You Are Developing a Gambling Addiction


Gambling occurs when a person stakes something of value on the outcome of a random event and hopes to win something of greater value, such as money or goods. It can be played in casinos, racetracks, bingo halls, at sporting events or even on the Internet. Gambling can be a fun way to socialize and spend time with friends, but it can also lead to financial trouble. It is important for people to understand how gambling works and how to recognise if they are becoming addicted to it.

People may be tempted to gamble because they are bored, depressed or simply want to pass the time. They may also be hoping to get a high from the excitement of winning big. Gambling can be addictive and lead to significant problems with family and friends, financial ruin, legal problems, mental health issues and even suicide.

Some individuals are more prone to gambling than others and this can be caused by a number of factors, including genetics, the environment and their upbringing. Some individuals have an underactive brain reward system, which can affect how they process rewards, control impulses and weigh risk. Other individuals are predisposed to thrill-seeking behaviours and impulsivity because of their personality traits. The type of gambling they engage in can also affect their likelihood of developing a problem, for example, if they are more inclined to play casino games and less likely to be involved in sports betting or horse racing.

Those with gambling addictions are often unable to walk away from a game, even when they lose money. They have a strong desire to return to the game in the hope of winning back their money or something else valuable. They might be able to control their gambling habits for some time, but they will eventually become overwhelmed by the urge and find it difficult to stop. Other factors that contribute to gambling addiction include boredom susceptibility, a poor understanding of the nature of random events, a lack of impulse control and escape coping.

Although the media often portrays gambling as fun, sexy and glamorous, it can be a serious problem for many individuals. In addition to the negative effects, it can also cause other issues such as depression, stress and loss of self-esteem. Some people will hide their gambling habits from others and start to lie about the amount of money they are spending.

The term ‘gambling addiction’ has gained popularity in recent years because of the similarity to substance abuse. This change in nomenclature was reflected in the various editions of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) published by the American Psychiatric Association, starting with DSM-3 in 1980. These changes in nomenclature have led to a shift in understanding of the problems associated with pathological gambling and have stimulated a great deal of research.