Gambling involves risking money or material valuables on an uncertain outcome, such as a roll of dice, the spin of a roulette wheel, or the result of a horse race. It is a popular recreational activity and an important source of revenue for many governments. The estimated annual amount of money legally wagered is around $10 trillion worldwide. Historically, gambling has been associated with immorality and illegal activities, but it is now seen as a legitimate form of entertainment.
There are several ways to overcome a gambling problem. Counselling can help people understand their gambling, think about how it affects them and their family, and consider options for change. In some cases, people with a severe gambling disorder may benefit from inpatient or residential treatment and rehab programs. In addition, it can be helpful to seek treatment for underlying mood disorders, such as depression or anxiety, which often trigger or make worse gambling problems.
In the past, it was not common for counselors to classify someone as a gambling addict, but this is changing. In the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), gambling disorder is now listed under behavioral addictions, along with other compulsive behaviors, such as eating disorders and substance use. This reflects the growing recognition that gambling disorder is comparable to other addictive behaviors in clinical expression, brain origin, comorbidity and treatment.
The first step in overcoming a gambling problem is admitting that there is a problem. This can be very difficult, especially for people who have lost a lot of money or have strained or broken relationships as a result of their gambling. It is also common for people with gambling problems to try to minimise or deny that they have a problem.
Longitudinal studies of gambling are not widely available, as they are expensive to conduct and are subject to many confounding factors. These include: the difficulty of maintaining research team continuity over a long period of time; the lag between when a person stops or starts gambling, and their responses to questionnaires; and the impact that the environment has on gamblers.
Despite these challenges, longitudinal studies are becoming more common. The results of these studies will contribute to a better understanding of the etiology of gambling behavior and are essential for developing effective treatments. A comprehensive picture of gambling in society will also help governments develop effective regulations to protect consumers, ensure fairness and prevent exploitation. In this way, the development of a new generation of responsible gamblers is possible. However, this can only happen if people are educated about the risks and how to control them. It is therefore crucial that responsible gambling initiatives continue to grow and improve. The Responsible Gambling Council is committed to this effort. We have a number of useful resources to help you get started, including information about gambling laws in your jurisdiction. We can also match you with a therapist who has experience helping clients with gambling issues.