Gambling involves placing a bet, often money, on the outcome of a game or event whose result depends at least in part on chance. While most adults and adolescents have gambled, a small proportion develop gambling disorder (DSM-5), in which their behavior causes significant distress or impairment.
Gamble too much, and you might be risking your financial security or even your relationship with loved ones. If you’re worried about someone else’s gambling, consider encouraging them to seek treatment. These services are available for people of all ages and backgrounds, including specialized inpatient and residential programmes.
A large number of psychological and behavioural treatments are available for people with pathological gambling. These differ in their underlying assumptions about the etiology of the disorder and in how they are applied. However, they all share some common features:
Although many people can walk away from a round of poker or a few spins on a slot machine, some can’t. These are the people who become addicted to gambling. They find it difficult to control their urges and are unable to stop even when they are in deep financial trouble. They lie to their family and friends about their spending, and may even steal or commit fraud to cover up their losses. They are also likely to experience severe relapses and recurrent gambling episodes that cause distress or impaired functioning. Ultimately, they are at high risk of suicide.