How to Overcome a Gambling Disorder

Gambling Blog Mar 16, 2024

Gambling involves placing a value on an uncertain event for the chance of winning something of value. Among the many types of gambling are horse racing, boxing, numerous playing-card and dice games, cockfighting, recreational billiards and darts, and bingo. Often the prize is money or something of value that can be exchanged for money, such as tickets to sports events. The act of gambling is sometimes considered to be a morally reprehensible activity, and it is often illegal in many jurisdictions. However, the vast majority of people who gamble do so responsibly and within their means.

Despite the widespread use of gambling, there are serious concerns about its potential for causing psychological and other problems. Some studies suggest that it is an addictive behavior, similar to drug addiction or alcoholism. Others report that it may be linked to a variety of disorders, including depression, anxiety, family problems, work-related stress, and financial difficulties. The term “gambling disorder” was added to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) in 1994. The DSM is a book used by mental health professionals to diagnose emotional problems. It is important to note that the addition of this category did not mean that gambling was a mental illness, but rather that it exhibited features of an impulse control disorder.

In the DSM, there are six criteria that must be met for a person to be diagnosed with gambling disorder:

The first step in overcoming a gambling problem is acknowledging that there is a problem. This can be difficult, particularly for those who have lost significant amounts of money and strained or broken relationships as a result of their gambling. In some cases, individuals may even attempt to hide their gambling activities or lie about them.

Individuals who have a gambling disorder experience persistent preoccupation and compulsion to gamble, despite their efforts to stop or reduce their gambling. They also exhibit a lack of control over their gambling behavior, and they frequently feel restless or irritable when they try to control it or stop. Other symptoms include a negative mood and difficulty thinking clearly.

There are no FDA-approved medications to treat gambling disorder. However, some medications may be helpful in treating co-occurring conditions like depression or anxiety. It is also important to seek support from friends and family, and to find other ways to spend time that do not involve gambling. One way to do this is to join a peer support group such as Gamblers Anonymous, which follows a 12-step model and includes finding a sponsor, someone who has successfully overcome gambling addiction. Some people with gambling disorders also benefit from psychotherapy, which can help identify underlying emotional issues and develop healthy coping mechanisms. Lastly, inpatient or residential treatment and rehab programs are available for those with severe gambling problems who cannot manage them on their own.