Gambling Disorders – How to Recognize the Warning Signs of a Gambling Disorder


Gambling involves placing something of value on a random event with the hope of winning something else of value. It can be done in many ways, including placing bets on sports events, games of chance, or even playing card games. It is a common pastime and can be very addictive. It is estimated that 2.5 million U.S adults have a severe gambling problem and that another 5-8 million meet the diagnostic criteria for gambling disorder. People may gamble for a variety of reasons, including social interaction, boredom, depression, not wanting to think about their problems, or as a way to relax. It can be an enjoyable activity, but it can also be a dangerous addiction that leads to financial and psychological harm.

Gambling is a high-risk, low reward entertainment choice and there are no guarantees of success. It is important for individuals to understand this before they gamble. It is also important for people to set a budget for their gambling and stick to it, never using money that should be saved or used for basic needs. It is important to balance gambling with other activities and avoid gambling when you are feeling depressed or upset. It is also important to know your odds of winning before you play, and avoid chasing lost money.

It is possible to develop a gambling disorder because of the way our brains are wired. When we gamble, we receive a dopamine boost that is similar to the rush from ingesting drugs. This is why gambling can be so addictive and it is important to recognize the warning signs and seek help for a gambling disorder when needed.

Generally, there are four main reasons why people gamble: social, financial, entertainment, and the desire to become rich. Some people are predisposed to becoming addicted to gambling because of genetics, their family history, or a combination of factors. The problem is that it can be difficult to tell when a person is getting out of control and many people will try to hide their gambling behavior or deny it.

When someone is struggling with a gambling addiction it can be challenging for the whole family, especially when they are trying to take over household finances. It is important to seek help for a gambling disorder and ask for support from others in the family, friends, or community. A counselor can help families work through the specific issues related to the problem and offer tools and strategies to prevent gambling from occurring again in the future.

If you are concerned that you or a loved one has a gambling problem, please contact the CUCRC’s Helpline for assistance and support. They can also provide guidance on finding additional resources in the community and online. The Helpline is available at no cost to CU Boulder students, staff, and faculty. They can also connect you with virtual counseling and psychiatry through AcademicLiveCare, a free service that allows students to schedule appointments at any time of day or night.