Gambling Addiction


Gambling is the wagering of something of value on a random event, where instances of strategy are discounted. It includes all forms of betting, lottery tickets, video-draw poker machines and slot machines, bingo, dice games, scratchcards, sports betting and even speculating about business, insurance or stock markets. The activity generates dopamine, which is released in the brain in a similar way to ingesting drugs and creates the same feel-good effect.

Those who are addicted to gambling often have a poor understanding of how to manage risk, a preoccupation with the activity and a desire to gamble despite negative consequences. They may try to conceal their involvement, lie about how much they spend or hide their activities from friends and family. It can also harm their relationships, performance at work and study, lead to debt and homelessness, cause depression and suicide.

Pathological gambling is considered a mental disorder and was included in various editions of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), published by the American Psychiatric Association, from 1980 to 1994. Its inclusion was due to changes in our understanding of gambling addiction, which have paralleled our increasing knowledge of other addictive behaviours such as alcoholism. This is because, in addition to causing financial problems, pathological gambling can be linked with a variety of other issues including: boredom susceptibility, impulsivity, a false sense of control, the need for escape coping and stressful life events. Gambling can provide a temporary thrill and help to meet unfulfilled needs, such as status and belonging.