Psychiatrists have outlined a spectrum of gambling-related behaviors. This spectrum ranges from recreational gambling to problem gambling to pathological gambling. The two conditions share many similar traits, including clinical expression, brain origin, comorbidity, and physiology. A person suffering from gambling addiction may be preoccupied with the activity, despite the negative consequences it causes. Gamblers may lie about their activity and use others for money to compensate for their losses.
Supportive family and friends are essential when trying to help a loved one break the gambling habit. It can be difficult for a person suffering from gambling addiction to admit that they have a problem, but they can find hope in the support of family and friends. Peer support groups like Gamblers Anonymous can help people cope with the effects of their addiction. This 12-step program, modeled after Alcoholics Anonymous, requires the person to have a sponsor, who is a former gambler who can provide support and guidance.
The United States and European Union regulate gambling activities. Gambling has been popular for centuries, but it has been suppressed by law in many areas for nearly as long. In the early 20th century, gambling was outlawed almost everywhere, which led to the growth of criminal organizations and mafia. However, attitudes toward gambling have gradually changed, and the laws against gambling have become more lenient. Despite its ill effects, gambling remains a popular activity in the United States.