Gambling Addiction



Gambling involves placing something of value (money, goods, services or real estate) on a random event with the intention of winning. It includes wagering on games of chance, as well as the buying or selling at a future date of securities or commodities, contracts of indemnity or guaranty and life, health and accident insurance.

Most people can walk away after a few rounds of poker or a spin on a slot machine, enjoying the fun while it lasted. But for a small percentage of people, gambling is more than just fun: it’s an addiction.

For many of those addicted to gambling, the behavior is triggered by the same brain circuitry involved in other impulse control disorders such as kleptomania and pyromania. This is why, in a reclassification that’s widely hailed as a milestone, the psychiatric community has recently moved pathological gambling from a chapter on compulsions into the section on addictions in its diagnostic manual.

The change reflects the growing evidence that pathological gambling is a real disorder. It is also based on research showing that gambling can cause serious social and family problems and increase risk of suicide.

For those struggling with a gambling problem, the best course of action is to seek treatment. There are a number of options for treatment, including outpatient programs and residential treatment facilities. There are also peer support groups, such as Gamblers Anonymous, that can help people with a gambling disorder overcome their urges and regain control of their lives.