Gambling involves risking money or something else of value in a game where the outcome is determined by chance. It can be fun and exciting, but it can also lead to financial problems and other emotional distress. Compulsive gambling tends to run in families and is more common in men than women.
In recent years, the psychiatric community has increasingly viewed pathological gambling as an impulse control disorder, in the same category as kleptomania and pyromania. This shift, which came about through a careful review of research into the biology of addiction, is reflected in the latest version of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), which was published this year.
The new classification reflects the increasing recognition that compulsive gambling shares important features with substance-related disorders, such as its clinical expression, brain origin, comorbidity and physiology. In addition, studies have shown that people who struggle with compulsive gambling may be genetically predisposed to thrill-seeking behavior and impulsivity.
If you or someone you know has a problem with gambling, it is important to seek help. Talk to a therapist, who can help you develop healthy coping strategies and find a treatment plan that works for you. You can also join a support group, such as Gamblers Anonymous, which is based on the principles of Alcoholics Anonymous. Another option is to seek family counseling, which can help you set boundaries around gambling and other spending. It is also helpful to have a strong support system, and to avoid chasing your losses, as this can only increase the amount you lose.