Pathological Gambling


Gambling is when people risk something of value, like money, on a random event, for the chance to win. It can involve anything from buying a ticket in the lottery to betting on horse races, or placing bets on scratchcards or other games of chance. It is often considered to be a harmless form of entertainment, but for some people it becomes problematic and harmful. This type of problem gambling is referred to as pathological gambling. Pathological gambling is classified as a disorder in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM).

Despite its high risks, some people find that it is fun and exciting to gamble. This is partly because of the release of dopamine when a person wins. Unlike most other forms of entertainment, gambling has the potential to provide both pleasure and profit. But for some people this feeling of pleasure and excitement becomes addictive, leading to problems with their finances, relationships, work and health. In some cases it can even cause homelessness.

This addiction is a result of changes to the way our brain sends chemical messages, and it is caused by many factors. Some of these factors are genetic or psychological predispositions, while others include a desire for reward and the sense of thrill that is generated by gambling. It is also common for people to use gambling as a way to meet other needs, such as socialising, or to feel a sense of belonging by being part of a casino, which promotes a perception of exclusivity and status.

Another reason people become addicted to gambling is that they have a tendency to overestimate their chances of winning, or they believe they can get back any losses by simply putting more money in. This is known as the ‘gambler’s fallacy’, and it is very easy to fall into this trap. People are also more sensitive to losing than they are to gaining the same amount. This is because the brain perceives a loss as more distressing than a gain of the same value. This is why gamblers chase their losses and end up investing more and more money in an attempt to recoup their losses.

Those who are addicted to gambling experience several other symptoms, including compulsive urges, difficulty controlling their behavior, and impaired judgement and reasoning. They may also show signs of depression or anxiety, and they are more likely to be involved in illegal activities. In addition, gambling can cause them to be in legal trouble, and it can affect their relationships with family and friends. Ultimately, it is important to recognize the signs of addiction in yourself or someone you care about so that you can seek treatment and help them stop gambling.