Whether you’re placing a lottery bet, buying a scratch card, betting on the outcome of a sporting event or tossing a coin in the air, gambling involves putting something of value at risk with the hope of winning a larger prize. In the past, the psychiatric community considered pathological gambling a compulsion rather than an addiction, but this year the American Psychiatric Association moved it to the section on addictive disorders in its Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM).
While there are no medications available to treat gambling disorder, several psychotherapies can help. These include cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), which looks at how your beliefs and assumptions influence your behaviour, and family, marriage, career and credit counselling, which can help you work through the specific problems caused by your gambling and build a strong foundation for recovery.
One of the biggest obstacles to recovery is recognizing that you have a problem, especially if your gambling has caused financial ruin and strained or broken relationships. But remember that many people have fought back from this debilitating condition and rebuilt their lives.
For those struggling with a serious gambling habit, there are inpatient or residential treatment and rehab programs. These facilities are designed to provide you with around-the-clock support and help you develop healthy coping mechanisms to deal with cravings. They may also incorporate meditation and relaxation techniques into your treatment program. In addition, there are support groups, like Gamblers Anonymous, that can offer you a network of peers and a variety of resources.
It’s important to recognize that a gambling problem can be just as dangerous as any other addiction. In fact, some studies have linked harmful gambling to depression and suicide, so it’s vital to seek help if you’re having trouble managing your emotions.
If you suspect that a loved one has a gambling problem, it’s helpful to speak up sooner rather than later. You can offer support by encouraging them to call a helpline, talk to their healthcare provider or mental health professional or go to Gamblers Anonymous. It’s also important to practice empathy and listen carefully to your loved one without judging them.
Taking steps to address a gambling disorder can be difficult, but it’s important to know that you don’t have to do it alone. By seeking help from a trained therapist and using the resources and tools available to you, you can overcome your addiction and lead a full and rewarding life. To get started, you can try our free online therapist matching service to connect with a licensed, vetted therapist near you. Just answer a few short questions and we’ll match you with a therapist in as little as 48 hours. Start healing today.