Gambling is the putting of something of value, with the consciousness of risk and hope of gain, upon the outcome of a game, contest, or uncertain event. This activity is regulated by state and federal laws and is classified as an impulse control disorder in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (American Psychiatric Association 2000). While most people who gamble do so without problems, some develop gambling disorder, which has been defined as the persistent, compulsive urge to bet, even when there is little or no chance of winning. Gambling can also interfere with family, social and work life.
There are a number of ways to address a gambling problem, including therapy and self-help strategies. A therapist can help you identify your triggers and teach you healthy coping mechanisms. A therapist can also offer family therapy to help you improve your relationship with your loved ones and create a more stable home environment. Self-help strategies include setting a spending limit and keeping track of your wins and losses. You can also try to replace your unhealthy coping behaviors with new, positive activities such as exercising, taking up a hobby or volunteering.
The more you’re exposed to poker machines, lottery tickets, scratch-offs or sports betting, the more likely you are to develop a gambling addiction. It’s important to minimize these exposures, especially if you have children, as they can easily become hooked on gambling. You can teach your children about the importance of money management and encourage them to participate in healthy extracurricular activities instead. This will teach them the value of working hard and having a strong work ethic, as well as provide an alternative to gambling.
While some people can overcome a gambling addiction on their own, many require treatment. There are a number of different therapies available for people with a gambling disorder, including cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), psychodynamic therapy and group therapy. Inpatient or residential treatment programs are also available for those with severe gambling addictions who need round-the-clock support to stop gambling.
Gambling disorders are often linked to other underlying mood conditions, such as depression or stress. Getting help for these conditions can reduce your vulnerability to gambling addiction and make it easier to resist the urge to gamble. In addition, if you’re struggling with debt, you can speak to StepChange for free, confidential debt advice.
The most effective treatment for gambling disorder is a combination of psychotherapy and lifestyle changes. These treatments can help you recognize the warning signs of a problem and get you back on track to a healthy lifestyle. These therapies include cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), psychodynamic counseling, and group or family therapy. A therapist can also help you set realistic goals and manage your finances. Then, you can begin to regain your life and focus on the things that are most important to you. You can also start by practicing gratitude, which studies show increases positivity and shifts your thoughts away from gambling.