Gambling Disorders


Gambling is a behaviour that involves placing something of value on a random event with the hope of winning something else of value. It can be done at casinos, in online gambling, or in other venues like lottery tickets and scratch-offs. While many people gamble responsibly, a small percentage of individuals have gambling disorders that are serious enough to cause significant problems for themselves and their families. Some of these problems include gambling addiction, debt, legal issues and relationship difficulties. A problem gambler may even become suicidal if his or her gambling is out of control.

There is a large body of gambling research focused on individual personality, attitude and beliefs, with a smaller but growing corpus of work considering the wider socio-cultural and economic influences on such behaviour. However, most harm reduction strategies are still framed through psychological and economic models of individual addiction and rational choice.

A social practice perspective on gambling would offer a more holistic approach to the issue, and could help to develop a more integrated and comprehensive strategy for reducing harm. This would involve acknowledging and altering the various elements that shape gambling practices. This would include policies and programs to restrict the spaces and places in which gambling occurs; public discourses, media campaigns and advertising that shape attitudes and beliefs about gambling; and interventions that reshape cultural and social norms that encourage such behaviour.

While there are no approved medications to treat gambling disorder, it is possible to manage gambling disorder with some help and support. Counselling can help people identify their underlying issues and learn how to cope with them. It is also helpful to find other activities to occupy one’s time, such as physical activity and hobbies. Family and friends can also provide support, and it may be helpful to attend a gambling recovery or support group such as Gam-Anon.

If someone is struggling with a gambling addiction, it is important to seek professional help as soon as possible. A professional counselor can help the person understand his or her behaviour, identify triggers and develop a personalised plan to overcome it. The counselor can also refer the individual to other services that can help.

The best way to prevent a gambling addiction is to avoid it altogether. Only gamble with money that you can afford to lose, and never with money that is needed for bills or rent. Avoid gambling if you are depressed or upset, as these are times when a gambler is at his or her most vulnerable. Make it a rule to leave when you have reached your gambling limit, regardless of whether you are winning or losing. Never try to chase your losses; the more you try to win back what you have lost, the greater your loss will be. Make sure that gambling is not interfering with other activities in your life, and never gamble when you are feeling lonely or bored. Gambling is an expensive form of entertainment, and it’s often not very enjoyable.