The Signs and Symptoms of Gambling Addiction

Gambling is risking money or something else of value on an event involving chance or skill, in which you’re hoping to win. It can involve anything from buying a lottery ticket to playing card games or betting with friends at the races. It may be legal or illegal, and it can take place in public places like casinos and racetracks, as well as at home, on the Internet, at work, at school, and in many other situations.

The problem is that gambling can cause real harm. It can lead to addiction, which is a serious mental illness. And it can also affect your relationships and finances, including your credit. It’s important to know the signs and symptoms of gambling addiction, so you can get help for yourself or a family member.

There are a number of different treatment options for gambling addiction. Depending on the severity of the addiction, you might need outpatient treatment or residential care. You can also find support groups for people with gambling problems, as well as a variety of self-help materials. Some of these resources include online gambling support, self-assessments, and tips for staying in control.

You can also seek professional help from organisations that offer counselling and therapy for problem gamblers. These services can provide you with the tools and support you need to overcome your addiction. They can also help you repair your relationships and finances. You may find it helpful to attend family therapy or marriage counseling, as well as career and credit counseling.

It’s also a good idea to learn how to manage your emotions and relieve boredom in healthier ways. If you gamble to relieve unpleasant feelings, such as stress, loneliness, or depression, you may want to try other ways to deal with these emotions, such as exercise, socializing with friends who don’t gamble, or practicing relaxation techniques.

In the past, the psychiatric community viewed pathological gambling as a type of impulse control disorder—a fuzzy category that also includes kleptomania, pyromania, and trichotillomania (hair-pulling). However, in 1980, when updating its Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, the APA formally moved pathological gambling into its chapter on addictive disorders. This decision reflected a growing understanding of the biological basis of impulse control disorders, and it has changed how psychiatrists treat people with pathological gambling.

When you gamble, your brain releases dopamine, a neurotransmitter that makes you feel good when you win. This can make it difficult to know when to stop gambling. It’s also important to be aware of other factors that can trigger problematic gambling, such as chasing losses. For example, if you’re sitting at a table and the dealer keeps offering free cocktails, it’s a sign that you need to cut back on your gambling. Then, when you gamble again later, you’ll be more likely to recognize your symptoms and stop before things get out of hand.