Understanding Gambling Disorders


Gambling involves betting or staking something of value, such as money, on an uncertain event that depends on chance. If you guess correctly, you win money; if you don’t, you lose it. The risk of gambling can be high, so you should only gamble with money that you can afford to lose. Avoid free cocktails and other temptations at a casino, and don’t chase your losses. This can lead to financial ruin, and it is called the “gambler’s fallacy.” The idea is that you will get lucky again and recoup your losses if you keep playing.

There are a variety of reasons why people gamble, and while these don’t absolve a person who has a gambling addiction of responsibility for their behavior, they may help us understand what drives someone to gamble. For example, some people gamble for social reasons, to meet other like-minded people at a casino or sports event, or to spend time with friends. Some people gamble for financial reasons, hoping to win a jackpot or other large sum of money that would change their lives. And, for some people, gambling is a way to experience a rush or “high” that can be addictive in itself.

Mental health professionals can offer many treatment options for a person who has a gambling disorder, including psychodynamic therapy, which looks at unconscious processes that influence your behavior, and cognitive-behavior therapy, which helps you learn to resist unwanted thoughts or habits. Additionally, family therapy can help educate loved ones about gambling disorder and create a supportive home environment for a person with this condition.