Gambling Addiction

Gambling involves risking something of value, usually money, on an event that is based on chance and has no foreseeable outcome. This includes betting on sporting events, casino games (e.g., blackjack and roulette), lottery, bingo and other games of chance. It does not include bona fide business transactions in which a person has a contractual right to receive something of value at a future date, such as purchasing a stock or commodity in advance for a price that is fixed by law, or selling an asset at a specified future date based on the current market price.

Problem gambling can affect people from all walks of life. However, it is more common among people who live alone, are in lower socioeconomic brackets or have medical conditions. It also can affect children and teens, who are at a greater risk for developing problems later in life. There are many factors that contribute to gambling addiction, including genetics, environment, mental health, and social and cultural backgrounds.

Some people gamble to relieve stress, take their mind off their troubles, or socialize with friends. They also may feel a rush of euphoria when they win. For some, this is an acceptable form of entertainment, but for others, it can become dangerous.

A major cause of problem gambling is the tendency to place a high value on the expected return on a bet. A psychiatric disorder called pathological gambling is characterized by this tendency. It is considered to be an impulse control disorder, and it has been placed within a new category of disorders that focus on behavioral addictions.

There are a variety of theories about the causes of gambling disorders, including impulsivity, cognitive distortions, and moral turpitude. Some argue that the disorder is caused by an underlying disease, while others point to environmental and psychological factors as contributing to the condition.

Regardless of the cause, it is important to seek treatment for a gambling disorder. It can be a difficult and long road to recovery, but there are steps you can take to help yourself. One of the most important things to do is to strengthen your support network. You can do this by reaching out to family and friends, or by joining a peer support group like Gamblers Anonymous.

The DSM-5 explains that the rationale for placing pathological gambling in the new category of behavioral addictions is that it shares features with other addictive disorders. These features include a violation of social norms, impaired control over behavior, and impaired functioning. In addition, the disorder is characterized by a comorbidity with substance use disorders. Lastly, the disorder is associated with adverse outcomes such as legal problems and financial ruin. The criteria for pathological gambling are similar to those for other impulse control disorders, such as kleptomania and pyromania. Despite these similarities, the disorders are distinct from each other and have not been shown to be causally linked. As a result, the decision to classify them separately is controversial.