Gambling is the act of risking something of value, usually money, on an event that can have a positive or negative outcome. It is an ancient activity that is still commonplace today.
Whether you play in a casino, at the track or online, you are gambling. This is a dangerous addiction that can impact your finances, family and career. It can be hard to overcome. The good news is that there are treatments available for problem gambling.
The Difference Between Gambling and Insurance
Often people confuse gambling with insurance, which is a method of shifting risks from one person to another. However, gambling is not the same as insurance because it involves a conscious effort to win.
The DSM criteria for diagnosing gambling disorder include:
Needs to gamble in order to experience a sense of excitement and enjoyment. Has repeated unsuccessful attempts to control gambling or cut back on spending. Has experienced significant stress or emotional distress from the behavior. Has lost large amounts of money to gambling, and has spent it on things that were not necessary. Has denial about the problem, which can help keep it going.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy, also known as CBT, is an effective treatment for gambling disorders. This type of therapy teaches individuals to challenge irrational thinking and unhealthy behaviors that are a part of their gambling habits.
Your Brain and Gambling
Studies of the brain have revealed that gambling can change a number of circuits in your brain, affecting the way you think and feel. These changes occur in the same areas of the brain as are involved in addiction to drugs and alcohol.
During a game of chance or skill, your brain releases dopamine, the chemical that makes you feel euphoric. This is because gambling stimulates the reward system in your brain, which can make you want to continue betting even when you are losing.
If you are suffering from a gambling addiction, talk to your doctor about treatment options that can help you stop. These may include therapy, medication and lifestyle changes. You can also seek help from a support group for gambling addiction.
Family members should also be aware of the signs and symptoms of gambling problems and how to help. If you notice a pattern of frequent losses, withdrawals, denial or financial hardships, it is a sign that your loved one is experiencing a problem. They may also be hiding their gambling activities from their friends and family.
Adolescents are more prone to exhibiting pathological gambling than adults. This is because adolescents are more impulsive and have less control over their gambling. They are more likely to have a limited support network and lack the education or financial resources needed for gambling prevention.
When a person develops a gambling disorder, it can be difficult to recognize the problem because it is similar to addictions to other substances and behaviors. This is because a gambler may not realize how much they are using and how much they are damaging their lives.