Gambling is an activity in which people risk something of value (usually money) on an event that has the potential to produce a larger prize. Some common types of gambling include lotteries, cards, slots, scratch-off tickets, horse races, dice and sporting events.
While the underlying causes of gambling problems are many, it’s possible to break the habit. If you are unable to control your urges, you may need help from a professional therapist or support group. In addition to helping you find healthy ways to cope, therapy can also address any underlying mood disorders that may be contributing to your addiction.
Psychiatrists recognize pathological gambling as an impulse-control disorder. The APA moved it from its own category of disorders—which included kleptomania, pyromania and trichotillomania (hair-pulling)—into the Addictions chapter in its Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders in the 1980s. This is a milestone, because it acknowledges that some people who gamble are suffering from an addiction that is similar to other addictive behaviors.
People gamble for a variety of reasons, including the thrill of winning money, socializing with friends and relaxing. Regardless of the motivation, there are risks involved in gambling, especially for those with a history of substance abuse or depression. People who have these disorders are more likely to experience gambling addiction.
Gambling can have negative impacts on individuals, families, communities and society. It can cause personal, financial, labor and health and well-being issues that affect more than one person. These impacts can be structured into three classes: internal, interpersonal and community/societal. Internal and interpersonal impacts affect gamblers directly, while external and societal impacts impact the entire community.
There are several types of psychotherapy that can be used to treat gambling disorder, including family therapy and individual therapy. Family therapy can be helpful for couples with a gambling problem by teaching them to discuss issues in a constructive manner. Individual therapy is a useful tool for those who have a problem with gambling because it allows you to explore and change unhealthy emotions and thoughts.
If you are a compulsive gambler, it’s important to seek treatment if you are exhibiting any of these symptoms: denying your behavior is a problem, lying about your gambling habits, borrowing money to fund your gambling, or experiencing stress and anxiety related to gambling. It’s also important to seek help for underlying mood disorders, such as depression, which can both trigger gambling disorders and make them worse. This will allow you to manage your addiction and get back on track in life. It’s also important to have a strong support system, such as a loved one, who can help you through recovery. It is also crucial to seek help from a professional, such as a psychologist or clinical social worker. This will ensure that you are getting the help and support that you need to overcome your gambling disorder.