Gambling is an activity in which individuals wager something of value on an event with uncertain outcome, whether it’s money or a physical prize. It can happen in many places, from casinos to racetracks to sports arenas. It can even take place on the Internet. It’s a fun way to pass the time, but it is not without risk, and people can easily become addicted to gambling.
According to the psychiatric community, pathological gambling is a real and serious mental health disorder. In fact, the American Psychiatric Association included it in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), as an impulse control disorder, alongside other compulsive behaviors like kleptomania and trichotillomania, in the 1980s.
While there are no FDA-approved medications for gambling disorders, counseling can help. During therapy, patients may learn to recognize triggers and develop coping mechanisms to prevent or address problem behaviors. Several types of therapy can be helpful for this population, including cognitive behavioral therapy and psychodynamic therapy.
Some people are able to overcome their gambling problems on their own. However, it’s also important for family members to seek treatment and support services. Counseling can help the family understand the disorder and think about how it affects the rest of the household. It can also help them come up with solutions to the problem.
The most common tip for preventing gambling addiction is to limit your spending. This means keeping a fixed amount of money that you’re willing to lose and not using credit cards or other forms of debt to fund your gambling habits. It’s also a good idea to avoid games that you don’t know how to play, as the odds of winning are low.
Another useful tip is to find healthier ways to relieve unpleasant feelings. For example, if you’re feeling bored or lonely, try taking up a new hobby or going for a walk. You can also seek social support from friends and family who don’t gamble, or join a support group for problem gamblers, such as Gamblers Anonymous.
If you find that your loved one has a gambling problem, reach out for help. There are many resources available to help, from peer support groups to residential treatment and rehab programs. If the problem becomes severe, consider putting someone else in charge of managing the finances and taking away their credit cards. You can also attend therapy sessions with your loved one, or try an intervention. If you’re a spouse or parent, be sure to attend support meetings for families of problem gamblers.