Gambling involves risking something of value (typically money) on an event whose outcome is determined mostly by chance, with the intent to win a prize. It can include activities such as lotteries, casino games, scratchcards, dice, horse races, sports events, and even online gaming. Many people enjoy a little gambling from time to time, and some become addicted. This is a serious problem and needs to be addressed. Fortunately, there are many treatment and recovery options available for those who have a problem with gambling.
In the past, there has been a great deal of debate over what causes someone to gamble problematically. A number of explanations have been put forth, including recreational interest, diminished mathematical skills, poor judgment, cognitive distortions, and mental illness. More recently, researchers have begun to understand the role that hormones may play in a person’s gambling behavior.
Pathological gambling (PG) is a persistent and recurrent maladaptive pattern of gambling behaviors that is associated with distress, dysfunction, or impaired functioning. PG is defined in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) as: -Pathological gambling consists of repeated, uncontrollable, maladaptive patterns of gambling behavior that result in distress or impairment; -The person is preoccupied with gambling and spends an excessive amount of time and energy on it; -He or she lies to family members, therapists, or others to conceal the extent of involvement with gambling; -The person attempts to recover losses by increasing gambling activity, even when that results in additional distress or impairment; or -The person engages in illegal acts, such as forgery, fraud, theft, embezzlement, or embezzlement in order to finance his or her gambling.
Several types of therapy are used to treat gambling disorders, including cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), psychodynamic therapy, and group therapy. Medications are also sometimes used to treat co-occurring mental health conditions, such as depression and anxiety, which are often found in those with gambling problems.
Some people with a gambling problem are able to stop on their own, but most will need help to do so. In addition to individual and group therapy, residential or inpatient treatment programs are available for those with severe underlying problems. These programs provide around-the-clock support and are often offered in partnership with other addiction treatment providers.
If you’re struggling with a gambling addiction, seek out help as soon as possible. Seek out a therapist who specializes in this area and is familiar with the different approaches that might work best for you. You can also get help from a professional debt adviser, who can advise on the best way to manage your finances and credit. Lastly, reach out for support from friends and family. Having the knowledge that you’re not alone in your struggle can be a big motivation to make changes. It’s important to remember that gambling products are designed to keep you hooked and can be very difficult to quit.