Understanding Gambling Disorders


Many people have gambled at some point, whether it’s buying a lotto ticket or putting money on the horses or pokies. For most, gambling is a fun pastime that doesn’t cause problems. However, some people develop a gambling disorder that can cause serious harm to their life. The understanding of problem gambling has undergone a major shift over the past few decades. Until recently, it was generally considered a psychiatric disorder that was similar to other impulse control disorders. Now it is recognised as a psychological problem with a significant impact on individuals and society.

Despite being legal in some countries and highly regulated in others, there are still concerns about the risks of gambling. Regardless of whether it is done online or in person, there are a number of steps that can be taken to reduce the likelihood of gambling-related harm.

Some of these include avoiding websites or products that are targeted to vulnerable groups, budgeting for gambling and using credit cards to limit the amount of cash spent, not betting more than you can afford to lose and keeping your gambling in perspective. It is also important to avoid drinking and gambling, as this can lead to a relapse.

Gambling is defined as the wagering of something of value on an event with a chance of winning something else of value where instances of skill are discounted. People can gamble in a variety of ways including lotteries, racing, casinos and the internet. It is thought that there are around $10 trillion dollars wagered each year globally.

The earliest evidence of gambling dates back to ancient China, with tiles found in a tomb believed to have been used for a rudimentary game of chance. There are also records of organised gambling in most European countries and Australia, with state-run or licensed lotteries. Gambling has a long history of being a social activity and is an integral part of many cultures worldwide.

Research has shown that some people are more susceptible to developing a gambling disorder than others. These include those with a low income, young people and men. Around 5% of adolescents and adults who gamble will develop a gambling disorder, according to the latest edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM).

People are more likely to become addicted to gambling when they are impulsive. People with a history of other impulsive mental health disorders are also at greater risk, and those who suffer from depression or anxiety may be more likely to gamble as a way to distract themselves.

It can be difficult to cope with a loved one who has a gambling problem. However, trying to understand their motivations can help. Remember that they didn’t choose to gamble and that gambling is not a way to make money. It is also important to keep in mind that it can be hard to give up the habit, especially if you are spending hours each week in a casino or passing a TAB on your commute.