How Gambling Affects People With Pathological Gambling Disorders
Gambling involves wagering something of value on a future contingent event that depends upon chance and is not under the control or influence of the player, and where the chances of winning are not known for certain. It does not include bona fide business transactions valid under law, such as contracts of indemnity or guaranty and life, health and accident insurance. Gambling is practised in casinos, lotteries, online and in private settings. It can be addictive and can cause significant financial or social problems.
People gamble for a variety of reasons, from fun and excitement to the prospect of winning money or other prizes. Regardless of the motivation, gambling is an activity that entails risk and is subject to a wide range of psychological, social and emotional factors. People who experience a problem with gambling often have coexisting mental health conditions and personality traits that make it difficult to change their behavior.
When people gamble, their brains respond with a release of the hormone dopamine. This chemical helps them feel good, and it drives them to seek out more of the same. Eventually, this cycle can lead to unhealthy behaviors such as spending excessive amounts of time at the casino or using credit cards. Gambling can also affect a person’s finances and personal relationships, and it may even lead to bankruptcy.
While there is agreement that pathological gambling is similar to substance abuse, some experts are still unsure whether it should be considered an addiction. In addition, there is disagreement about how to measure the severity of a person’s gambling disorder. Some researchers use clinical ratings while others rely on longitudinal studies to follow a group of individuals over time.
Many types of psychotherapy can help treat gambling disorder. These treatments are usually done with a trained mental health professional and involve discussing feelings and thoughts about gambling. Therapists also work with clients to find healthy ways to spend their time. They may suggest changing the way a person manages their money, limiting how often they gamble or how much they can bet at one time.
Family members can help their loved ones struggling with gambling by taking steps to prevent or address the problem. For example, they can set boundaries in managing money by letting someone else be in charge of the finances, setting automatic payments on bank accounts, closing online betting accounts and keeping only a small amount of cash on hand. They can also participate in therapy sessions to learn coping strategies and discuss the impact of the problem on their relationships. In some cases, a person’s gambling disorder can be so severe that they need to enter rehab. In these programs, they can receive intensive treatment and support from their peers as well as other family members. Afterward, they can continue to receive support from professionals at home or in outpatient programs. They can also learn healthy ways to handle stress and address any other mental health issues that are contributing to their gambling.