Whether it’s buying a lottery ticket or playing the pokies, gambling can be fun and offer a rush when things go your way. But for some, it can become a problem.
The biggest step for someone with a gambling addiction is acknowledging that there’s an issue, especially if it’s cost them money and strained or broken relationships. But there is help available. Counselling can be a good option, and there are many organisations that specialise in addressing gambling addiction. Other options include family therapy, career counselling and credit counselling.
Traditionally, the term ‘gambling’ refers to any activity where you risk something of value on an event whose outcome is uncertain – that could be anything from a football match to a scratchcard. Typically you make the decision to gamble and the amount of money that you’re willing to risk, which is then matched with odds (the chance of winning) by betting companies.
Recent studies have found similarities between pathological gambling and substance use disorders. These findings have led to a proposal for upcoming changes in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders that would see PG moved from Impulse Control Disorders into a new category currently being called Behavioral Addictions. However, more research is needed to understand how these behavioural patterns develop, and how they can be prevented and treated. Longitudinal studies can help with this work as they allow researchers to compare people at different points in time.