Gambling Disorder


Gambling is when you stake something of value on an event whose outcome depends on chance, such as betting with friends on sports games or buying lottery tickets. It can also include playing card or board games with friends for small amounts of money, or even the use of collectible game pieces such as marbles and Magic: The Gathering cards.

In DSM-5, gambling disorder is included under the category of behavioral addictions (along with substance use disorders) because it shares some common features with these disorders: the person loses control over their spending and/or time; lies to family members or therapists to conceal the extent of their involvement; and the activity causes emotional distress or negative health consequences. Some research suggests that counseling can help people who struggle with this condition and may benefit from a combination of medications (to treat co-occurring conditions like depression) and behavioral therapy.

Staying in recovery from gambling or problem gambling can be hard. It is important to surround yourself with people who hold you accountable, give someone else control of your credit and bank accounts, avoid tempting environments or websites, close online gambling accounts, and find healthy activities to fill the void in your life. It’s also helpful to join a peer support group such as Gamblers Anonymous, which follows a model similar to Alcoholics Anonymous and provides guidance on how to overcome gambling addiction. These groups are available in most communities and on the Internet.