Dealing With Gambling Disorders

Dealing With Gambling Disorders


Gambling is risking money or something of value on an uncertain outcome in a game of chance. Most people who gamble do so without problems, but a subset develops a gambling disorder that is listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (Fifth Edition). Vulnerability to develop a gambling problem is higher among people with lower incomes, those who start gambling at an early age, and those with coexisting mental health conditions.

A gambling addiction can have devastating effects on family members and relationships. When a person is struggling with an addiction, they may hide their behavior from friends and loved ones or even lie to them about the amount of time and money they’re spending on gambling. Moreover, family members may experience stress, depression, and grief when a loved one develops a gambling problem.

There are many ways to deal with a gambling addiction, including therapy and lifestyle changes. Psychotherapy helps you identify and change unhealthy emotions, thoughts, and behaviors. It can also teach you skills to fight gambling urges and solve financial, work, and relationship problems caused by compulsive gambling. In addition, psychotherapy can treat underlying conditions such as depression, anxiety, or bipolar disorder that can contribute to gambling disorders.

The human brain is wired to seek rewards. When we engage in healthy behaviors such as spending time with loved ones or eating a nutritious meal, our bodies release dopamine, which makes us feel happy. Gambling, like other forms of entertainment, can trigger this response because it also causes our brains to release dopamine. However, it is important to remember that gambling is not a reliable way to make money and can actually result in losses.

It’s also important to avoid gambling when you’re stressed or upset. This is a common time for gambling to occur, and it can lead to bigger losses than usual because you are more likely to lose when you’re in a negative mood. Additionally, it’s a good idea to set a time limit for how long you want to gamble and stick to it. Leaving when you reach your time limit can help prevent impulsive gambling. You should also never chase your losses – trying to win back lost money – as this will only increase your losses.

If you or a loved one is struggling with gambling, it’s important to get help. Treatment options include inpatient or residential programs and gambling counseling. Inpatient programs offer round-the-clock support to help you break the cycle of compulsive gambling and regain control of your life. In addition to gambling therapy, you can use techniques such as cognitive-behavioral therapy and relapse prevention to overcome your disorder. Lastly, family therapy and marriage, career, and credit counseling can help you work through the specific issues created by your gambling addiction and provide you with tools to prevent future problems. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration hasn’t approved any medications to treat gambling disorder, but several types of psychotherapy can help.