You may have woken up this morning with fleeting thoughts of becoming a billionaire. The reason being tonight’s Powerball drawing, with the jackpot standing at the highest amount it has ever been — a whopping $1.5 billion. With a figure like that, who can blame the mind for wandering into daydream?

However, for those with a gambling disorder (GD) the thought of winning tonight’s jackpot could not have been only fleeting, it would’ve been something close to all consuming. Although many individuals with a gambling disorder understand their condition, they consistently demonstrate a clear misperception of the probabilities of winning, and are unable to stop gambling. This belief in winning persists against the unlikeliest of odds, even say, odds of 1 in 292 million (which are the approximate odds of winning tonight’s drawing, if you bought a ticket).

Classification of problematic gambling in the Diagnostic and Statistics Manual (DSM-5) of Mental Disorders changed from the wordy ‘impulse-control disorder not elsewhere categorized’, to ‘gambling disorder’ only as recently as 20131,2. Clinical features of GD include:

  • Engaging in behavior despite its adverse consequences
  • Reduced control over the problematic behavior
  • An urge or craving state prior to engaging in the behavior
  • Hedonic quality during the behavior