Treatments For Gambling Disorders

Gambling is the act of betting something of value on a random event with the intent to win a prize. In most forms of gambling, the participant wagers money or other goods. A few examples include playing card games like poker or bridge with friends in a private setting, placing bets on football games or horse races within social circles, or betting on street magic boxes or bingo. Gambling is a global industry, contributing to the economies of many countries around the world.

Problematic gambling can damage relationships and finances, cause personal and professional setbacks, cause a lack of sleep, contribute to poor health and even lead to homelessness. It can also harm an individual’s family members, coworkers, and community. The good news is that help is available for people with gambling problems. Treatments for gambling disorder may include support groups and therapy.

Often, the urge to gamble is driven by emotions. People who are depressed, grieving, or experiencing financial difficulties may turn to gambling as a way to distract themselves. In addition, the media can portray gambling as a fun, glamorous, and exciting activity. Biological factors can also play a role in problematic gambling. Some individuals have an underactive brain reward system or are genetically predisposed to risk-taking behaviors and impulsivity.

Some people are unable to stop gambling, even when it causes significant harm to their lives. They might be able to rationalize their behavior, but the truth is that it’s hard for them to control their impulses. In fact, research shows that people with gambling disorders are more likely to experience depression and suicidal thoughts than those without a gambling disorder.

In order to overcome a gambling addiction, it is important to seek help as soon as possible. Inpatient or residential treatment and rehabilitation programs are aimed at those who cannot control their gambling habits without round-the-clock care. Therapy for gambling disorders includes cognitive behavioral therapy and psychodynamic therapy. Some treatment options may also involve family, marriage, or career counseling.

While there are no drugs approved by the FDA to treat gambling disorder, some medications can be used to manage symptoms of anxiety or depression that may contribute to gambling. Additionally, it is helpful to remove the temptation to gamble by removing credit cards, having someone else handle your money, closing online accounts, and keeping only a small amount of cash on hand. Finally, it is helpful to find other activities to occupy your time, such as exercise, hobbies, or spending time with supportive friends and family. Ultimately, the decision to stop gambling is a personal one, but it’s important to seek out support and therapy if you have a gambling problem. If you have trouble stopping on your own, talk to a trusted friend or family member, seek treatment for yourself at a gambling rehab center, or attend a Gamblers Anonymous meeting. It’s possible to beat your gambling addiction. But it won’t happen if you don’t try.