What Are the Signs and Symptoms of a Gambling Disorder?

Gambling involves risking something of value on the outcome of a game of chance, such as betting on a sporting event, a lottery drawing or a card game. It can be done legally or illegally and involves a conscious decision to take the chance of losing money in order to gain pleasure, excitement or other rewards. It can range from purchasing lottery tickets or playing board games for small amounts of money to the sophisticated casino gambling of the wealthy for entertainment or as a source of income. Gambling can also lead to serious problems for individuals and their families, friends, communities and work performance.

Problem gambling is a significant worldwide issue that affects many people. Although the majority of gamblers do not have a problem, some people develop gambling disorders that can have devastating effects on their lives. The disorder is associated with high levels of distress, impaired functioning in daily life and a lack of control over gambling behaviour. It can affect a person’s self-esteem, relationships, mental and physical health, performance at work or studies, family, social life and even get them into legal trouble. It can be hard to know whether you or someone you care about has a gambling disorder, but the signs and symptoms include:

The main cause of a gambling addiction is the way gambling affects the brain. It can trigger a reaction that overstimulates the brain’s reward system. This can result in a craving for more and more gambling activities, which may become out of control. It can also lead to impulsive actions and an inability to stop gambling, even when losses accumulate.

Many people start to gamble in the hope of becoming rich, and for some this can be very tempting. However, it is important to remember that gambling is not a guaranteed way of getting rich. Some people will win big and others will lose, so it is crucial to only bet what you can afford to lose.

There are some benefits to gambling, such as socializing and learning new skills. In addition, it can help to improve a person’s mood by stimulating happiness. However, these benefits are only experienced when it is done in moderation. If you are suffering from a gambling addiction, there is help available. Counselling can help you understand your gambling habits and think about how they affect you and your family. It can also give you the tools to stop the behaviors, including ways to deal with urges and find alternative sources of entertainment. There are no drugs approved for the treatment of gambling disorders, but some medications can help treat co-occurring conditions such as depression or anxiety. Family and friends can also be a great support to help you recover. In addition, it is important to make a plan and stick to it. You can read more about how to manage your gambling addiction and get the help you need on the NHS website.