Helping a Loved One With a Gambling Disorder


Gambling is an activity in which people risk money or something else of value in a game involving chance. It can be done in many ways, from scratchcards and fruit machines to horse races and football accumulators. It also includes betting on business or political events and games of chance like lottery or bingo. In the past, gambling was often illegal, but today it is widespread and easily accessible through technology. Some people are addicted to gambling, and it can be harmful to their health, relationships, and finances.

A person with a gambling disorder may find it difficult to control their impulses, even when they are aware of the risks. This could lead them to spend more than they can afford or to hide their gambling from others. They may also be at risk of developing other mood disorders, such as depression or anxiety. This makes it important for loved ones to help them seek treatment before their situation worsens.

It is important to understand the reason behind a loved one’s gambling habits so you can avoid becoming angry with them and make them feel guilty. This will not change the fact that they have a problem, but it will help you to see them in a different light and may make it easier to accept their actions as normal.

There are four main reasons that people gamble. They might gamble for social reasons – to be part of a group, or to unwind with friends. They might gamble for entertainment – to get that rush or high, or because they enjoy thinking about what they would do with their winnings. They might gamble to relieve boredom or distress – for example after a stressful day, or after an argument with their partner. And they might gamble for financial reasons – to win big, or to ease financial pressures – for example by placing bets on sports events or the stock market.

A gambling disorder is a type of impulse control disorder, and it has been recognised as such in the latest edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) by the American Psychiatric Association. This move reflects new research about the biology of addiction and the similarities between gambling disorder and other behavioral problems, such as substance use disorders.

If you are concerned that your gambling is out of control, try to set some limits. Only gamble with money that you can afford to lose, and don’t let it interfere with your family life or other activities. You should also aim to stop gambling when you reach your time or money limits, and never chase your losses – this will usually lead to bigger losses. You should also consider learning healthier and more effective ways to relieve boredom or stress, such as exercise, spending time with friends who don’t gamble, or relaxation techniques. You can also seek professional help, which is available through psychotherapy and cognitive behavioral therapy.