What Is Gambling Addiction?


Gambling is a behavior that involves risking something of value (money, possessions or property) in an effort to win a prize. It also includes the use of skills to increase the chances of winning, such as predicting the outcome of a sporting event or a scratchcard. Gambling is considered a type of addiction because it can result in problems with thinking, mood and behavior. There is no one-size-fits-all treatment for gambling disorder, but psychotherapy can help.

A key to recovering from gambling addiction is realizing that you have a problem. Then, you can take steps to change your behavior. Some people have difficulty accepting that they have a problem, especially if they’ve lost money or strained relationships because of gambling. Those who are able to admit they have a problem often find it easier to seek treatment.

There are many different types of gambling, including legal and illegal activities. The difference between these is important for regulating and identifying gambling behavior and determining whether it’s harmful. It’s also helpful in identifying which gambling behaviors are most likely to lead to problems.

The most common form of gambling is playing card games, such as poker, blackjack and spades, with friends or family in a private setting. Other forms include sports betting, such as football accumulators and other races; lotteries; and online gaming. It’s important to distinguish between these activities and other forms of leisure, which can be beneficial and enjoyable.

Some scholars have linked gambling to sensation-seeking and novelty-seeking. Zuckerman’s theory of gambling suggests that individuals gamble to gain positive reinforcement in a period of uncertainty, and Cloninger suggests that it may be related to a desire for diverse sensations and excitement.

In addition to the factors mentioned above, there are other social and environmental influences that can influence the development of a gambling disorder. For example, a person’s genetic makeup may contribute to the likelihood of developing an addiction, as shown by studies of identical twins. Moreover, stressors in daily life, as well as the presence of other mental health conditions, can trigger gambling disorder.

Although the FDA doesn’t approve any medications for treating gambling disorders, there are several types of psychotherapy that can be beneficial. These therapies can be used alone or in conjunction with other treatments, such as medication or support groups.

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) can help you identify and change unhealthy thoughts, emotions and behaviors that contribute to your gambling disorder. It is a structured approach to treating an addiction, and it usually involves talking with a counselor about your concerns. Other types of psychotherapy that can be useful for addressing a gambling disorder include psychodynamic therapy and group therapy. Family and marital therapy are also helpful, particularly if you’ve experienced problems in your relationship as a result of your gambling disorder. You can also join a gambling recovery program, such as Gamblers Anonymous, which is based on the 12-step program for overcoming substance dependence.