How to Overcome Gambling Disorders
Gambling is a form of recreation and entertainment that involves risking money or something else of value in an attempt to win something of greater value. It is an activity that can lead to psychological, social and financial problems. There are many different types of gambling, including poker, horse racing, lottery games and slot machines. Most governments regulate gambling activities and prohibit minors from participating in them. Various types of therapy can help individuals overcome gambling disorders.
In the past, psychiatry regarded pathological gambling as a type of impulse control disorder, similar to kleptomania (stealing) or pyromania (fire-starting). But in recent years, scientists have been able to link it to specific areas of the brain involved in reward and emotion, making it more comparable to addictions to substances. This has led to a reclassification of pathological gambling in the latest edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, known as DSM-5.
Research has found that people with a pathological gambling disorder often develop it in adolescence or young adulthood and begin to gamble at an earlier age than others. They also tend to gamble more than their non-problematic peers and spend more time and money on gambling. In addition, males are more likely to have a problem with strategic or face-to-face forms of gambling, such as blackjack or poker, while females are more likely to experience problems with nonstrategic or less interpersonally interactive forms of gambling, such as online casinos or bingo.
Psychiatric treatment for gambling disorders can include psychotherapy and medications. Psychotherapy is a general term for a variety of treatments that seek to change unhealthy emotions, thoughts and behaviors by working with a trained mental health professional. Psychotherapy can be done individually or in group therapy and can be helpful for both children and adults. Medications can be used to help treat the symptoms of some disorders, but they don’t work well for everyone and are not considered an effective treatment by themselves.
The first step in overcoming a gambling disorder is acknowledging that you have a problem. This can be a difficult step, especially if you have lost a lot of money or damaged relationships because of your gambling habit. However, many people have been able to break the cycle of gambling and rebuild their lives.
If you have a gambling disorder, it’s important to get help right away. Find a counselor who can teach you coping skills and recommend other therapies to address the underlying issues. You may also benefit from family, career and credit counseling. Depending on the severity of your problem, you might consider inpatient or residential treatment and rehab programs. These are more intensive treatments designed for those who can’t stop gambling without round-the-clock support. It’s also important to address any underlying mood disorders that could be contributing to your gambling behavior, such as depression or anxiety. If left untreated, these can lead to even more harmful gambling habits. To start, you can take steps to reduce your exposure to gambling by getting rid of credit cards, putting someone else in charge of your finances and closing your online betting accounts.