Gambling is risking something of value (money or possessions) to predict an outcome based on chance, such as a football match or scratchcard. Some gamblers become very wealthy but most lose money and often ruin their lives, families, careers and relationships in the process.
A small proportion of people develop pathological gambling (PG). PG starts in adolescence or young adulthood and usually worsens over time. Men are more likely to develop PG than women. Those with PG are more likely to report problems with strategic or face-to-face forms of gambling, such as blackjack and poker, than nonstrategic or less interpersonally interactive types, such as slot machines and bingo.
Like other chemical addictions, gambling can lead to withdrawal symptoms such as anxiety, insomnia or hypersomnia, racing thoughts, lethargy and rumination. Some people can also develop gambling cravings and feel like they need to gamble even when they don’t have any spare cash. This is because when they gamble, their brain releases dopamine, a neurotransmitter that makes them feel happy and excited.
If you have a friend or family member with gambling addiction, talk to them about it. Encourage them to seek help and support from a professional. They may be able to attend residential or inpatient treatment and rehabilitation programs, which are aimed at those with severe underlying psychological issues. Also, try to encourage them to only gamble with disposable income and never money that needs to be saved for bills or rent.