gambling disorder


What is gambling addiction?

Gambling refers to an activity in which a person risks something valuable to them in order to win something in return. Common forms of gambling include betting in casinos or on sporting events.

Gambling disorder describes a loss of control of gambling behavior that causes significant problems with finances, work, or personal relationships. Sometimes it is also called compulsive gambling or problem gambling. People with a gambling disorder are unable to control their gambling activities.

How common is gambling addiction?

Compulsive gambling affects an estimated 2 to 4% of the population in the United States.

symptoms and causes

What causes gambling addiction?

An uncontrollable desire for the rush or excitement of winning can lead to compulsive gambling. There is no known cause for this disorder. In some cases, the condition runs in families.

What are the symptoms of gambling addiction?

Signs of gambling addiction include:

  • Thinking about gambling often
  • Having a craving for gambling that grows in intensity
  • Gambling money or possessions you don’t have
  • Needing to make larger bets more often to achieve the rush of excitement
  • Becoming irritable or restless when trying to stop or slow down gambling
  • Chasing losses (gambling after losing money to win back the loss)
  • Continuing to gamble even when it negatively affects finances, work, or personal relationships
  • Lying to keep gambling activities secret
  • Difficulty controlling gambling activity
  • Gambling when feeling anxious, agitated or to manage other uncomfortable feelings
  • Seeking financial assistance from others to help promote your gambling addiction.


diagnosis & tests

How is gambling addiction diagnosed?

A doctor or mental health professional can help individuals identify that they have a gambling disorder. 

management & treatment

How is gambling addiction managed or treated?

Doctors and mental health professionals successfully treat many people with a gambling disorder with cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). With CBT, people with compulsive gambling learn to understand why they gamble. This understanding helps them better manage their gambling problems.

Counselors also discuss other options for solving problems as well as how to deal with their addiction and how to repair relationship.

What complications are associated with gambling addiction?

People who do not receive treatment for compulsive gambling can experience many complications. The most dangerous complication is an increased risk of suicide. It is important to seek medical help if you or someone you know with compulsive gambling is thinking about suicide. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 800-273-8255.

Other complications of the disorder include:

  • Significant loss of money or possessions
  • Severe debt
  • Legal problems
  • Damaged relationships with friends and family


What are the risk factors for gambling addiction?

In some cases, people are at greater risk for gambling addiction because they have a family history of the disorder.

Can gambling addiction be prevented?

Because doctors do not know what causes compulsive gambling, there is no known way to prevent it except totally abstaining from activities that involve the risk of gambling.


What is the prognosis (outlook) for people with a gambling addiction?

Many people who receive treatment for compulsive gambling do improve. When they control the gambling compulsion, they often can repair their finances and relationships. Resolving these problems improves their quality of life.

During and after treatment, joining a support group for compulsive gambling, such as Gamblers Anonymous, can help reduce the risk of returning to previous gambling behaviors.

For Community Education on Gambling, Resource or Referral Contact LaKar Enterprise at 708-263-9512 or fill out the contact form to request services.