Dealing With Gambling Disorders


A form of risky behavior, gambling involves betting money or something else of value on an event whose outcome is determined by chance. Examples of gambling include playing games like poker or slot machines, betting on horse races and sporting events, and buying lottery tickets or scratch-offs. Gambling is a common form of entertainment and can provide people with a rush when they win, but for some it becomes an addiction. It is also a dangerous activity that can lead to financial ruin and strained relationships.

Many jurisdictions, both local and national, either ban or heavily regulate gambling. Despite the risks, gambling has a long history of popularity and has become an integral part of some cultures. In the United States, gambling was popular on riverboats and in frontier towns until moral conservatism took hold in the early 20th century. However, a wave of popularity for gambling came back in the 1990s as people began to embrace it again.

People who gamble may experience different symptoms and levels of addiction, but the majority of people who gamble do not develop a gambling disorder. Pathological gambling is a complex condition that can be caused by a variety of factors, including a genetic predisposition, life experiences, and mental health issues. It can also be exacerbated by environmental and behavioral factors. People who have a gambling disorder may show symptoms as young as adolescence or as late as adulthood.

Several psychological models and theories have been used to explain the development of pathological gambling. These include a general theory of addictions, reward deficiency syndrome, behavioral-environmental reasons, and the biopsychosocial model. The most commonly accepted reason for the development of gambling disorders is impulsivity. Studies on impulsivity and gambling have shown that people who gamble tend to exhibit greater impulsiveness than those who do not gamble.

The first step to dealing with a gambling problem is acknowledging that there is a problem. This can be a difficult step, especially if the gambling has caused a loss of significant amounts of money or strained family relationships. But once a person is able to admit that they have a gambling problem, there are several steps they can take to overcome it.

Some people find that a peer support group can help them quit gambling. For example, members of Gamblers Anonymous can join together to offer each other support and encouragement in a confidential environment. These groups can also serve as a reminder of the positive aspects of one’s life that can be forgotten when a person is absorbed in gambling.

Other helpful tools for dealing with a gambling problem are budgeting, limiting time spent gambling, and avoiding chasing losses. It is also important to balance gambling with other activities, and never use money that is needed for basic needs such as rent or food. CU Boulder students can access online counseling services through AcademicLiveCare, which allows them to connect with counselors and therapists from anywhere.