Gambling is a game where a person places a bet that they hope will win. When a bet is placed, there is no way to take it back.
The American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) defines gambling as “risking something of value on an event that is determined at least in part by chance.”
While gambling is commonly associated with casinos and slot machines, it can also include sports betting, lottery games, scratch cards, and even office pools. It’s important to know what gambling is and how it affects your brain before you get involved.
How Gambling Affects the Brain
When you gamble, your body releases dopamine, a feel-good neurotransmitter that makes you excited when you win. This feeling of excitement is normal when you’re gambling, but it can get out of control for people with problem gambling.
Psychological disorders and conditions, such as depression, anxiety, and substance abuse, can increase your risk of gambling problems. Your coping styles, social learning and beliefs can also influence how you approach and engage in gambling.
If you have a gambling problem, cognitive behavioural therapy can help you understand your thoughts and behaviours around gambling and teach you to resist unwanted behaviour. This can help you break the cycle of gambling and stop gambling completely.
If you’re struggling with a gambling addiction, don’t give up. There are many support groups and self-help programs available to help you overcome your gambling habits.