Gambling is a type of risk-taking activity in which an individual places something of value on a chance event with the intention of winning another thing of value. While it’s possible to use strategy when gambling, the game is generally defined as a chance endeavor. It requires three elements: consideration, risk, and prize.
Problem gambling is an unhealthy behavior characterized by repeated, excessive gambling, often involving a significant amount of money. This behavior interferes with the gambler’s social, school, and work lives, and can be harmful to one’s mental or physical health. It also can negatively affect the gambler’s finances and reputation. Ultimately, it may lead to family and work conflicts.
There are several treatments available to help individuals with problem gambling. Most involve counseling, step-based programs, self-help or peer support, and some even include medication. However, no treatment has been proven to be the most effective for every individual, and no medication is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for pathological gambling.
Types of problem gambling
Problem gambling is one of the most costly addictions, and there is no limit to the amount of money an addict can lose. It can also cause a person to be short of cash frequently, requiring them to take out loans to cover their basic needs. Problem gamblers may also have difficulty obtaining credit, and may have a history of default or bankruptcy. They may even engage in financial crime in order to fund their habit.
Several factors may contribute to problem gambling, including gender, preferred gambling activities, and psychological factors. Despite this, gambling addictions rarely occur alone, and are often symptoms of other major psychiatric disorders.
Impact of problem gambling on a person’s life
Problem gambling has many effects on a person’s health, mental and emotional wellbeing, and relationships. These negative effects are compounding, interrelated, and affect the person’s ability to function and live his life. Gambling-related financial and relationship issues can negatively impact relationships and lead to a divorce or separation. Fortunately, there are several ways to combat gambling-related problems.
Typically, problem gambling is identified when financial resources are not sufficient to cover household expenses and gambling debts. While little research has been conducted on how problem gambling affects family finances, financial stress, debt, harassment from creditors, loss of property, and a lack of financial security are all known consequences of problem gambling.
Treatment options for gambling addiction can include counseling and 12-step programs. Therapy can help the gambler identify patterns in their gambling behavior and develop a plan to stop. Most of these treatments focus on cognitive behavioral therapy, which helps the gambler challenge their harmful beliefs about gambling. Support groups for people suffering from gambling addiction are also available. They follow a similar 12-step process to those for alcoholics and drug addicts.
The first step in overcoming a gambling addiction is to acknowledge that you have a problem. A primary care physician can help identify whether you have an addiction to gambling, and he can refer you to a mental health professional. A mental health professional can help you overcome the emotional and psychological effects of your addiction to gambling by implementing behavioral therapy and counseling techniques.