Pathological Gambling


Gambling is the act of betting something of value on a game or event with an uncertain outcome. The stake may be money or any other object of value, and the primary intent is to win something of value (the prize). It is a form of risk-taking, wherein skill or knowledge is not necessarily involved. While gambling is legal in most countries, there are serious consequences for some people who engage in this activity. Pathological gambling is a mental disorder that can have negative physical, psychological and social effects on a person’s life. It has high comorbidity with other disorders and is considered an addictive behavior.

The most common forms of gambling are lotteries, slot machines, games with dice, keno and horse racing. Approximately 40% of adults play some kind of gambling game. Generally, people gamble for entertainment, excitement and/or to win money or items. People with a gambling disorder often have mood swings and depression. In addition, they have difficulty separating their emotions from their gambling activities. They also tend to use gambling as a way to relieve boredom or other negative feelings.

Unlike most casual gamblers, those with a gambling disorder are unable to control their urges and are compelled to continue gambling even after losing money or experiencing a financial setback. They might also use other sources of funds, such as credit or theft, to fund their habit. In addition, they may be prone to self-destructive behaviors, such as substance abuse, to compensate for their losses.

Although it can be difficult to diagnose and treat, compulsive gambling is a very serious problem. Many people find relief and recovery through professional treatment. Those with this condition should try to strengthen their support network and seek out other ways to feel productive. They can join a book club, sports team or volunteering for a charity. They can also attend a support group for gamblers, such as Gamblers Anonymous.

People with a gambling disorder are at greater risk of depression and other health problems, such as obesity, cardiovascular disease and stroke. They are also at higher risk of suicide and domestic violence. Moreover, they are more likely to be addicted to alcohol and drugs.

While there is no cure for this disorder, a combination of behavioral and family therapy can help people recover. They should also focus on reducing the amount of time spent gambling and increase their involvement in activities that make them happy, such as exercising or spending time with loved ones. In addition, they should seek out counseling from a therapist who specializes in treating gambling disorders. The IRS requires all people who earn income from gambling to report it on their tax returns. This includes all winnings, minus the cost of bets, on both individual and shared games. Taxpayers who aren’t professional gamblers must also include any income they earn that isn’t reported on a W-2G as “other income” on their 1040 federal income tax return.