Gambling involves risking something of value – such as money, a job or a social event – on an outcome that is based in large part on chance. It can take place in a casino, on the internet or through informal bets between friends. Some people gamble for financial reasons, while others do it to relieve boredom or as a way of relaxing. For many people, gambling can become problematic and lead to addiction.
The decision to move pathological gambling from the impulse control disorders section of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders to the substance use disorders chapter in DSM-5 reflects research showing that it is similar to other addictive behaviors such as kleptomania (stealing) and trichotillomania (hair pulling). Other factors such as depression, stress or an underlying mood disorder can also trigger or make the symptoms worse.
If you or someone you know has a problem with gambling, it is important to seek help. Counseling can help a person understand why they are gambling, think about their options and solve problems. There are also programs to teach skills that can be used to avoid gambling and other activities involving risk. It is also important to set boundaries in managing money and not allow a person with a gambling disorder to access credit or spend money on anything other than necessities. In addition, it is a good idea to find other ways to get pleasure, such as exercise and spending time with friends.