Gambling involves risking something of value, such as money, on an event involving chance. This could be placing a bet on a football match or scratchcard, or it might be playing card games like poker with friends at home. In all cases, the outcome is determined by chance, and nobody knows for sure what will happen. Some people with gambling disorder are able to stop on their own, but others need help. Treatment for gambling disorders includes therapy and support groups.
About two million people in the United States meet the criteria for a serious problem with gambling, and they often end up losing control over their finances, their work, and their relationships. For some people, the problem begins during adolescence and continues into adulthood. Women are more likely to have a gambling problem than men.
The good news is that more effective treatments for gambling problems are available than ever before. And, more importantly, more people are aware that they have a gambling problem.
Many of the same factors that are associated with addiction to other substances can lead to gambling addiction. For example, some people gamble to relieve unpleasant emotions or boredom. Other people find comfort in socializing with friends or family members who gamble, or they may find that gambling provides an escape from everyday stressors. Lastly, some people may feel compelled to gamble because it is socially acceptable or legal in their area.
Some people have a genetic predisposition to develop a gambling problem, and they are more likely to do so if their family members also have a history of the condition. Trauma and social inequality, particularly in women, are also risk factors. In addition, many people with a mental health disorder, such as depression or anxiety, are more likely to develop a gambling problem.
Several types of counseling are effective for treating gambling disorder, including individual therapy and family therapy. In addition, some people find success by enrolling in a support group for people with gambling disorder. These groups are modeled on Alcoholics Anonymous and typically include a sponsor, who is a former gambler with experience in remaining free from the addiction. Other treatment options include cognitive behavioral therapy and psychodynamic therapy. Many people who have a gambling disorder also use medication. But, these medications are not always effective and are generally only prescribed for short-term use. For these reasons, it is important to consider treatment options carefully before starting a medication. Some people have a difficult time acknowledging that they have a gambling problem, and they may try to minimise the problem or deny it. They may even lie to their family and friends about how much they are spending on gambling or hide evidence of it. These tactics are dangerous and should be avoided. A therapist can help a person recognise the problem and make realistic plans for recovery. If you suspect that someone is struggling with a gambling addiction, contact a therapist right away.