Gambling Addiction


Gambling involves placing something of value on a random event, such as winning a lottery ticket, betting on horses or sports events, or playing pokies. While skill and strategy may help reduce the odds of losing, it is important to remember that gambling is a risky activity that involves potential losses. Despite this, many people gamble for fun or to win money. However, when a person is addicted to gambling, it can become a serious problem that causes financial harm and affects personal relationships. In severe cases, it can even lead to suicide. If you have a gambling addiction, it is important to seek treatment.

There are a number of different treatments for gambling disorder. The most effective is cognitive-behavior therapy, which teaches a person to resist irrational beliefs and thoughts that can trigger addictive behavior. Several types of psychotherapy can also be helpful, such as family-based treatment and support groups like Gamblers Anonymous. In some cases, individuals who have a gambling disorder may benefit from medication. However, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not approve any medications to treat gambling disorder, so these treatments are typically used as a part of a comprehensive program of care.

The psychiatric community’s understanding of gambling and gambling problems has undergone a radical change in recent years. In the past, psychiatrists and other mental health professionals tended to view pathological gambling as a form of impulse control disorder, similar to kleptomania and pyromania. In a move that has been described as historic, the American Psychiatric Association moved pathological gambling to the section on addictions in the most recent edition of its Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM).

Understanding why a loved one gambles can help you recognize signs of an addiction. Many people gamble for coping reasons, such as to distract themselves from stress or depression, to feel more confident or self-assured, or to gain pleasure and excitement. Other factors that can increase the risk of gambling include personality traits and coexisting mood disorders.

Gambling problems can have a negative impact on work, education and social life. People who gamble compulsively often lie to their friends and family members about the extent of their gambling, and some even commit illegal acts, such as forgery, embezzlement or theft, to fund their habit. They can also develop a substance use disorder and experience a loss of control over their spending habits.

To overcome a gambling addiction, it is important to strengthen your support network and find new ways to get pleasure, such as exercising, spending time with friends, or joining a book club. In addition, it is important to address any underlying issues that might be contributing to your addiction, such as stress or depression. If you are in debt, speak to StepChange for free and confidential debt advice, or consider seeking help from a therapist or support group. A therapist can teach you skills to cope with negative emotions, and provide guidance on how to make positive changes to your lifestyle.