Gambling Disorders

The practice of gambling involves placing stakes on a game with materials that have value, such as coins or paper tickets. Many forms of gambling are legal and have been a major source of economic activity around the world, providing jobs and tax revenue for governments. Despite its popularity, gambling can cause negative impacts, not only on the gambler but also on their family and society. These impacts can be observed at the individual, interpersonal, and community/society level. For example, escalating debt can affect the life of the gambler and their families as well as the community by creating stress that may lead to depression and other mental health issues.

Gambling is often used for coping reasons such as to escape boredom, to relieve stress or to socialize with friends. It is important to remember that these types of coping behaviors can be replaced by healthy activities, such as exercise, spending time with friends who do not gamble and practicing relaxation techniques. People who have coexisting mental health conditions or personality traits, such as impulsivity, risk-taking and a poor understanding of random events, are more likely to develop an addictive gambling pattern.

There are no FDA-approved medications for treating gambling disorders, but psychotherapy can be an effective treatment. This form of therapy is a type of counseling that helps an individual identify unhealthy emotions, thoughts and behaviors. It takes place with a trained and licensed mental health professional, such as a psychologist or clinical social worker.