Gambling is the act of wagering something of value, typically money or property, on an event with a uncertain outcome. In some cases, gambling can be considered an addiction when the urges become overwhelming and negatively impact one’s life. This can include relationships, job performance, finances and other areas of a person’s life. It is also common for people to have co-occurring disorders that may affect their ability to gamble responsibly.
Some of the most effective ways to control a gambling problem are through counseling, support groups and family therapy. It is also important to limit access to money and electronic devices that can cause gambling urges, such as blocking online betting sites and putting someone else in charge of managing your finances. It is also recommended to strengthen your support network and find new hobbies that will help to occupy your time and keep you away from gambling activities.
Longitudinal studies of gambling behavior provide valuable information about the factors that moderate and exacerbate an individual’s participation in gambling. However, these studies are expensive and challenging to conduct, particularly in the face of logistical challenges (e.g., the large financial commitment required for a multiyear study and the difficulty in retaining research team members over a long period of time).
Pathological gambling (PG) is characterized by recurrent maladaptive patterns of gambling behaviors that lead to significant distress or impairment in the individual’s quality of life. PG usually starts in adolescence or young adulthood and is more prevalent among males than females. PG also occurs more often in strategic and face-to-face forms of gambling, such as blackjack or poker, than in nonstrategic or less interpersonally interactive forms, such as bingo or slot machines. Psychiatric researchers have also found that depressive mood is often present with PG and can either precede or follow the onset of the disorder.