Gambling Disorders


Gambling is the act of risking money or something of value on an event whose outcome is determined at least in part by chance. The majority of people who gamble do so without a problem, but a subset develops a gambling disorder, which is classified as an impulse control disorder in the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, fifth edition (DSM-5). Gambling disorders have many negative psychological, physical and social repercussions and can be very hard to treat.

Unlike most addictions, there is no single symptom that identifies someone as having a gambling disorder. In addition, it is possible for a person to have a problem with gambling while also being able to function in his or her life in other ways. A gambling disorder can have a wide range of effects, from an inability to stop gambling to financial ruin and loss of important relationships. It is also possible to become dependent on the feeling of excitement and reward that comes from gambling. For some, gambling is a way to escape from their problems or to relieve boredom. It is also a way to spend time with friends and family, or to be surrounded by different sights, sounds and emotions. It is sometimes seen as a glamorous and exciting activity, especially by the media.

Although many people think of gambling as a recreational activity, it can lead to serious consequences and even death. The majority of those who have a gambling disorder are not professional gamblers and often have no previous history with the activity. They may develop an urge to gamble after losing a significant amount of money. Some people begin to gamble more frequently as they lose money and increase their bets in a hope of winning back what they have lost. In other cases, they start to feel compelled to gamble because they can’t resist the urge, or it becomes a way to avoid dealing with other issues in their lives.

The study used data from the ALSPAC cohort, which has collected extensive health and social information over 25 years. Gambling behavior was self-reported at ages 17 and 20 years and again at age 24 years. The investigators initially attempted to use trajectory analyses using Mplus v.8.1, but the models exhibited poor fit and minor slope heterogeneity, making them of little use (see Methods). Therefore, missing values were imputed for each of the 13 gambling variables at each of the three time points.

Practicing healthy behaviors can help prevent or reduce the impact of gambling on your life. If you find yourself in the habit of gambling, set a time limit and stick to it. Don’t gamble when you’re feeling stressed or down, and make sure to balance it with other activities that bring you pleasure. And never try to chase your losses, as the more you gamble in an attempt to win back what you have lost, the more likely you are to lose more.