Gambling Disorders

Gambling involves putting real money on the line in exchange for a prize determined at least partly by chance. It is an activity that takes many forms, from organized football (soccer) pools to state-licensed lotteries and gambling in casinos. It is estimated that about $10 trillion is legally wagered annually (illegal betting may exceed this figure). Gambling has been a part of human culture throughout history. It has been a way to entertain, a source of social status, and a vehicle for raising money for charity or community projects.

While most adults and adolescents who gamble do so without problem, a significant subset of individuals develop disordered gambling. This is defined as a range of behaviors that place people at risk for developing more serious problems to those behaviors that meet Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders criteria for pathological gambling. Most individuals who have disordered gambling are men and young people. This is likely due to the fact that these individuals are at greater risk for developing a gambling addiction, and that men tend to place higher values on winning than women do.

A variety of treatments are available for those with gambling disorders, including psychotherapy and medication. Psychotherapy is a term that refers to several types of treatment techniques that aim to help a person identify and change unhealthy emotions, thoughts, and behaviors. In addition, medication can be used to reduce cravings for gambling and can decrease the symptoms of anxiety or depression that may be associated with them.