Gambling As a Compulsive Activity


Gambling is an activity where an individual risks money or possessions by betting on events that are based in some way on chance. It is a common pastime, especially among older adults. While it can have negative consequences, gambling can also provide a form of entertainment and stress relief for those with mental health issues. In addition, it can help teach the principles of probability, statistics, and risk management.

Gambling can involve playing games such as card games, roulette, and bingo; placing bets on sporting events such as horse or greyhound races or football accumulators; and speculating on business, insurance or stock markets. It can also involve taking a risk on an event such as a lottery draw or a raffle. It can also include activities such as online betting or purchasing scratchcards.

It can be helpful to find healthier and more effective ways of relieving unpleasant feelings, such as exercising, spending time with friends who don’t gamble, or practicing relaxation techniques. For those with a gambling problem, counseling can be useful to identify triggers and consider options for change. Some medications may be used to treat co-occurring conditions such as depression or anxiety.

In the past, the psychiatric community generally considered pathological gambling to be more of a compulsion than an addiction. In the latest version of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, however, the American Psychiatric Association has moved pathological gambling into the category of impulse control disorders, alongside kleptomania, pyromania and trichotillomania (hair-pulling). The move is seen as an attempt to more accurately reflect the nature of the disorder.