Help For Gambling Disorders

For some, gambling is a harmless form of entertainment, while for others it can become a serious addiction that leads to financial and personal problems. The good news is that help and treatment for gambling disorders are available. However, it is important to understand the risks involved in gambling before starting.

Gambling involves betting something of value on an event that is based mostly on chance, such as a game of sports or a lottery draw. People gamble in casinos, on television and online, or even at home using computerized devices. They can win cash, prizes or other items of value. Many countries regulate and tax gambling. In the United States, most state and federal governments offer lottery games, and private organizations offer horse racing, bingo and poker.

People gamble for a variety of reasons: the adrenaline rush of winning, socialising with friends, or escape from stress and worries. But if you’re spending more than you can afford to lose, or hiding your gambling activities, it could be a sign of a problem.

Problem gambling often begins in adolescence and can continue throughout life. There are several risk factors, including family history, social inequality (especially for women), and trauma. It is also linked to depression, which can worsen the symptoms of gambling disorder. It may also be a result of stress, substance abuse, and unemployment. In addition, gambling can be a way to meet basic human needs, such as status and belonging.

In the past, many psychiatrists have treated people who struggle with gambling disorders by prescribing antidepressants or other psychiatric drugs. But new research shows that cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) can be just as effective. CBT is a type of talk therapy that helps you change your thinking and behavior. It teaches you to challenge irrational beliefs, such as the belief that a few wins will soon turn into a string of losses or that missing two out of three cherries on a slot machine means you’re due for a big win.

Although there are no FDA-approved medications for gambling disorders, some medications can help treat co-occurring conditions such as depression and anxiety. Support groups like Gamblers Anonymous can also be helpful. It’s also important to set limits and stick to them. Never bet more than you can afford to lose, and don’t spend more time on gambling than you have planned. It’s also a good idea to stay away from gambling when you’re feeling stressed or down. If you’re craving gambling, try to distract yourself with a different activity, or call a friend instead. The key is to make sure gambling doesn’t interfere with work, family and other obligations. If it does, seek help immediately.