Gambling Disorders


Gambling is risking something of value on an uncertain outcome, such as the roll of a dice, the spin of a roulette wheel or the result of a horse race. It can be fun and social, but it can also lead to problems. People of all ages and backgrounds can develop problem gambling. Some people can find relief through counselling and other services. Others can find help in family and peer support groups. In some cases, medication can help manage the symptoms of an underlying mental health condition that may be contributing to the problem.

Despite its legal definition, gambling is widely viewed as immoral and illegal by many people. Some governments regulate gambling to ensure fair play, maintain integrity and protect consumers. The terms of these laws can differ greatly by country and region.

A person is considered to have a gambling problem when their behavior causes distress or harm to themselves and/or others. These distresses or harms can include financial, social, emotional and occupational problems. They can range from mild to severe and may be long-lasting. People who are unable to control their gambling are often described as compulsive gamblers. Compulsive gambling is a serious, complex and treatable condition.

There is no single test to diagnose problem gambling. However, a psychiatrist can assess the person for signs and symptoms of a gambling disorder, such as:

It is important to recognize that some people are at higher risk of developing a gambling disorder. This includes younger adults, older adults, people with a history of depression or other mental health conditions and those who start gambling at a young age. People with a history of alcohol or drug use can also be at greater risk for developing a gambling disorder.

People who have a family history of gambling can be at increased risk of becoming a problematic gambler. A person’s genetics and environment can also contribute to the development of a gambling disorder.

Gambling can take place anywhere, from casinos and racetracks to gas stations and sporting events. Some people even gamble on the internet. While it is difficult to break the cycle of gambling, there are many people who have successfully done so. These people have become advocates for the cause and are working to change perceptions of gambling.

Counselling can help you understand your thoughts and feelings about gambling, and how they affect you. It can also teach you healthier ways to relieve unpleasant feelings, such as exercising, spending time with friends who don’t gamble, or practicing relaxation techniques.