Understanding Problem Gambling
Most people who gamble do so without experiencing problems related to their gambling. Unfortunately, a small, but important subset of this group develop a debilitating addictive disorder commonly referred to as Problem Gambling. Individuals with Problem Gambling are preoccupied with gambling and experience uncontrollable urges to gamble. The central behavioral characteristic of problem gambling is "chasing the bet" in which the individual deals with a significant loss by returning with additional money to try to "get even". The behavior of chasing the bet fuels larger and larger losses as the individual bets larger amounts over longer periods of time in an effort to counter the accumulating losses. The individual will often lie to others, including loved ones, about the extent to which they gamble. As a group, individuals experiencing problem gambling experience increased rates of co-occurring psychiatric disorders including depression, anxiety, substance abuse, and suicide.
Individuals that experience problems related to gambling may be male or female, young or old, from any ethnic group, religion or income level. He or she may gamble on video poker, slots, horse races, card games, dice, sports, lottery, bingo, or the stock market. Any game of chance that allows the gambler to place money at risk can occasion a gambling problem in a vulnerable individual.