Gambling involves risking something of value (money, property or possessions) on an event that is determined by chance. Whether it is betting on a football game, playing scratchcards or buying lottery tickets, gambling is an activity that has the potential to become addictive. While most people gamble for fun, some develop a serious gambling disorder, which is defined by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (Fifth Edition) as an irresistible urge to bet, with an inability to control gambling activities.
People who gamble often say they do it for the adrenaline rush, to socialise and to escape worries or stress. However, for some it can become a problem that leads to debt and even mental health problems such as depression. The first step to overcoming a gambling addiction is admitting you have one, which can be hard especially if your losses have been significant and relationships have been strained or broken.
Many people also report that they gamble for coping reasons – to forget their troubles or to feel more confident. Although these reasons don’t excuse your loved one, they can help you understand why they keep gambling and the impact it has had on their life.
Longitudinal studies are needed to better understand what factors lead to gambling problems and how these factors differ between individuals. Such studies would be able to clarify how aging and period effects influence the likelihood of developing a gambling problem, as well as the relationship between a person’s innate personality traits and their propensity for gambling.