Gambling involves betting something of value on a random event with the intention of winning something else of value. It is considered a risky activity because it has the potential to lead to severe financial and social problems. Gambling can be done in a variety of ways, including in casinos, lotteries, and online. Some forms of gambling are legal, while others are illegal. Regardless of the method, gambling can lead to addiction and cause serious harm to individuals and society.
Compulsive gambling is a complex condition that affects 0.4-1.6% of Americans. It usually starts in adolescence or young adulthood, but can also develop later in life. People who have family members with a history of gambling are more likely to develop a problem than those who don’t. Men are more likely to develop a problem than women, and tend to start gambling at an earlier age. Pathological gambling (PG) is a psychiatric disorder that falls under the category of impulse control disorders, along with kleptomania and pyromania (hair-pulling). However, in the most recent edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, the American Psychiatric Association has moved PG into the chapter on addictive disorders because of its high comorbidity with substance abuse disorders.
Many people who gamble do so because they enjoy the thrill of the game. They are attracted to the adrenaline rush and the feeling of accomplishment that accompanies a win. They are also motivated by the desire to relieve unpleasant emotions or boredom. For example, they may gamble to self-soothe after a bad day at work or to relieve the pain of an argument with their spouse. However, there are healthier and more effective ways to relieve these unpleasant feelings than gambling. For example, exercise, spending time with friends who don’t gamble, or practicing relaxation techniques can be beneficial.
Ultimately, the best way to overcome gambling is to recognize that you have a problem. This can be difficult, especially if you’ve lost a significant amount of money or have strained or broken relationships due to your gambling habit. But remember, it takes tremendous strength and courage to admit that you have a problem. Once you’ve admitted that, seek help.
There are several treatment options for gambling disorders, including psychotherapy and medication. Talk therapy can help you understand the underlying issues that trigger your gambling behavior and teach you healthy coping skills. It’s important to find a therapist who you trust and feel comfortable sharing your thoughts and feelings with. Fortunately, the world’s largest therapist service can match you with a licensed, professional, and vetted therapist in as little as 48 hours. Click here to get started. No matter where you are in your journey to recovery, there is hope. If you’re ready to break the habit, a therapist can guide you. Start your search today.