Help For Gambling Addictions


Gambling is the act of wagering something of value on an event that involves chance with the hope of winning a prize. It is considered a psychological activity and has been part of nearly every society since prerecorded history. Gambling can take many forms, from placing a bet on a horse race to playing a slot machine. Regardless of the game or the amount of money at stake, most gamblers experience the same emotions: excitement, anticipation and, ultimately, loss.

People who have a gambling addiction may exhibit several warning signs, such as an inability to control their spending, repeated unsuccessful attempts to quit or reduce their betting habits, and frequent feelings of stress, regret and guilt. A person who experiences these symptoms should seek treatment for their problem gambling immediately.

In addition to a gambling addiction, some individuals who experience difficulty with gambling may also have an underlying mental health condition such as depression, anxiety or bipolar disorder. The combination of these disorders can lead to compulsive gambling, which can be difficult for people with these conditions to recognize and treat on their own.

While most individuals participate in gambling for enjoyment, a small percentage become seriously involved, and continue to gamble despite negative personal, family, work, and financial consequences. This group of individuals is referred to as pathological gamblers. While the precise causes of this behavior remain unclear, researchers believe that it is a complex interaction between biological, environmental, and societal factors.

There are a number of ways to get help for a gambling problem, including cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). CBT helps individuals change their unhealthy thoughts and behaviors related to gambling, as well as learn new coping skills that can last a lifetime. In some cases, a therapist may recommend treating any underlying conditions that can contribute to a gambling addiction.

For those struggling with a gambling problem, it’s important to surround yourself with supportive people and keep in mind that you are not alone. Reach out to your friends and family for support, or find a peer support group such as Gamblers Anonymous. This 12-step recovery program is modeled after Alcoholics Anonymous and provides support from those who have experienced the same challenges you are facing. It can also be helpful to set boundaries in managing finances, and establish a clear agreement with the individual in your household about how they can spend their money. This can be difficult, but it is an essential step in avoiding further financial and emotional damage. Lastly, consider family therapy and credit counseling to address any relationship or financial issues that have been exacerbated by the person’s gambling addiction. Often, these issues are the root of the person’s problem gambling. The more you can identify these issues, the easier it will be to find a solution.