Gambling is a form of entertainment that involves placing something of value, usually money, at risk on an event with some degree of uncertainty. A person can gamble in a variety of ways: lotteries, scratch tickets, games of chance such as cards, bingo, dice, sports events, horse races, animal tracks and casinos. Despite the wide range of forms gambling can take, it is important to recognize that it is a dangerous addiction for many people. Psychiatric researchers have studied the issue of gambling addiction for decades. It wasn’t until recently, however, that the psychiatric community agreed to include pathological gambling in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM).
Gamblers Anonymous offers support and advice for people with gambling problems. They offer group meetings and one-to-one counselling, based on the 12-step model of Alcoholics Anonymous. The organization also provides information and resources for loved ones of compulsive gamblers. The first step is acknowledging that there is a problem, which can be difficult. It is also important to make changes to your life to prevent relapse. This may mean putting a stop to credit card use, having someone else in charge of managing your finances, closing online betting accounts or keeping only a small amount of cash on you.
A key factor in pathological gambling is a mood disturbance. Depression is a common symptom of PG, and research has shown that depressive symptoms often precede or follow the onset of a gambling disorder. Research has also highlighted the high rates of co-occurrence between a person’s mood and their gambling habits.
Another source of evidence about the harm caused by gambling is longitudinal studies that follow individuals over a long time period. These studies are valuable because they can examine a variety of factors including a person’s history with gambling, family and personal circumstances as well as their current level of gambling activity.
While there are challenges to longitudinal research in the field of gambling, this type of data is becoming increasingly common and sophisticated. Longitudinal studies can be used to evaluate a wide variety of outcomes, such as the impact of a gambling addiction on health and wellbeing, as well as economic impacts on a family.
More than two million Americans are addicted to gambling, according to various surveys. Today, it is easier than ever to get hooked on gambling, with more forms of the habit available than ever before. It is also much more socially acceptable and accessible than it once was. With more states making gambling legal, and with internet sites like poker rooms and lottery sites available on desktops and mobile phones, it is important that treatment options are developed that can effectively address the problem. Until recently, the psychiatric community viewed pathological gambling as more of a compulsion than an addiction, akin to kleptomania or trichotillomania (hair pulling). But this year, the APA classified PG as an impulse control disorder in its latest edition of the DSM.