Understanding Gambling Disorders
Gambling is wagering something of value on an event whose outcome depends on chance and where skill does not influence the result (for example, the outcome of a card game, the finish of a horse race). It may involve putting money on a sporting or other event, with the prize being either money or something else of value. It is a major international commercial activity, and the world’s legal gambling market is estimated to be about $10 trillion annually.
In many cases, gambling involves a significant amount of money and can cause serious financial problems. It can also lead to psychological problems, including a sense of compulsiveness and addiction. In some cases, people who have a problem with gambling can become so severe that they are unable to function normally in work or social relationships. The term “gambling disorder” has been used to describe this condition.
Understanding a loved one with a gambling problem can be difficult. They might gamble to cope with unpleasant emotions, such as boredom or loneliness, or because they feel they have nothing better to do. Some people have a tendency to hide their gambling and lie about how much they gamble. Others might be irritable or angry when confronted about their gambling.
Attempting to stop a gambling addiction can be challenging, especially if the person has spent a large amount of money or damaged their relationships. There are a variety of treatment options, such as psychotherapy or support groups for families affected by gambling disorders. In addition to seeking professional help, it is important to try to find ways to manage negative feelings without resorting to gambling. For instance, people who feel bored or lonely can find healthier ways to relieve these feelings, such as exercising, spending time with friends who don’t gamble, or practicing relaxation techniques.
There are some indications that the number of individuals with gambling problems is increasing. This has led to increased attention to gambling issues, including research and policy development. Many countries now have national gambling organizations and a number of jurisdictions have laws regulating the operation of gambling businesses. Some countries have even banned or restricted gambling, but these restrictions are often circumvented through illegal activities.
In recent years, the understanding of gambling and its adverse consequences has undergone a profound change. Previously, people who experienced problems with gambling were considered to be gamblers with bad luck; now they are more likely to be described as having psychological difficulties related to gambling. This shift is parallel to the change in the understanding of alcoholism and other psychological disorders, as reflected in the various editions of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders published by the American Psychiatric Association (APA).