Yes, gambling addiction, also called gambling disorder, is a mental illness, according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5). The opportunity to make big money, no matter how small the chance is and how risky the outcome is, creates a behavioral addiction in some people. Winning when gambling creates a huge rush of dopamine in our brains, and that feeling is addictive. People who are addicted to gambling chase the high associated with winning, even when it negatively affects their relationships, their finances, and their lives.
Someone with a gambling disorder will spend more money than they are able and may find themselves in huge amounts of debt. They may choose to gamble online or in casinos rather than go to work, attend school, or keep up with other responsibilities. If you or someone you love is unable to stop gambling, even when it has negative consequences, they are likely addicted to the behavior. Luckily, treatment options are available to help people overcome this and other behavioral addictions.