How to Recognize a Gambling Problem


Gambling is the act of betting money on an uncertain event with the expectation of winning something of value. It may be as simple as a roll of dice or as complex as betting on a race horse.

Problem gambling occurs when your gambling becomes unhealthy and begins to interfere with your life. It can lead to financial problems, damaged relationships and strained family dynamics.

There are many signs and symptoms that can help you determine if you have a gambling addiction. Depending on the extent of your addiction, you might need professional treatment to get it under control.

You might also need to address underlying mood disorders, such as depression, stress or substance abuse. These can trigger gambling, or make it even harder to stop.

The APA has recognized that pathological gambling and drug addiction share many of the same traits. Psychiatrists now know that both addictions involve changes in the brain’s reward circuitry, which links various scattered regions involved in memory, movement, pleasure and motivation.

Your gambler might need to attend an outpatient program or take medication to manage their disorder. It is important to discuss these options with them, and to help them understand the repercussions of their behavior.

They might need to have family therapy, marriage counseling or career counseling. These treatments can help them work through the specific issues created by their gambling, and give them the tools they need to build healthy and fulfilling lives.

Symptoms of a problem gambling addiction include spending more and more time and money on gambling, chasing losses or gambling despite severe consequences in their life. They may also lie to their spouse or parents about their gambling habits.

It is possible to overcome a gambling problem, but it requires the strength to admit that you have one. You must be willing to seek help and be able to put the past behind you.

You must also realize that if you do not deal with the issue now, it will only get worse. This is especially true if your gambling has damaged your credit or your relationships.

The APA has decided that the criteria for a gambling disorder are similar to those used to diagnose other addictive behaviors, such as smoking and alcohol abuse. This new understanding has improved the way psychiatrists treat gambling addicts.

People with a gambling addiction often have an underlying substance abuse or depression disorder, and it’s important to treat those issues before they cause serious harm to their finances.

It’s also essential to keep in mind that some people are more vulnerable to addiction than others, particularly those with a genetic predisposition to impulsivity or reward seeking. These are the individuals who tend to have more severe symptoms of withdrawal and addiction when separated from their drugs or gambling activities.

While there are some cases where gamblers might experience a period of remission, the most common outcome is that they continue to suffer from a gambling addiction. This can be a difficult, frustrating and dangerous time for the person who has a gambling problem.