Pathological Gambling


Whether it’s buying a lottery ticket, placing a bet on the ponies or playing slots at your local casino, gambling is an activity that involves risk and chance. It is not considered to be a skill, but a pastime that can be enjoyed for fun and entertainment purposes. People gamble for all sorts of reasons – from social interaction, to winning a big jackpot. There is no medication that treats pathological gambling, but counselling can help change unhealthy emotions and thoughts.

Research suggests that the urge to gamble can be triggered by a chemical imbalance in the brain that causes us to seek pleasure in other ways. Gambling can send massive surges of dopamine through the brain, but it may not be the kind of pleasure we need to survive (like eating and sleeping). Over time, this can lead to a cycle where people need more and more to get that feeling.

People with gambling disorder may hide their behaviour, lying to family members and hiding evidence of gambling. They often feel that their behaviour is out of control and that they are powerless to stop it. Pathological gambling is also linked to a range of psychological problems including anxiety and depression.

A person who has a gambling problem might be able to overcome it by changing their thoughts and emotions, finding healthier ways of spending time, or taking up other activities that make them happy. They might find support from a friend or family member, join a gambling group, or ask for professional help. They might also consider psychotherapy, which can include group therapy, individual therapy and psychodynamic therapy.