How to Overcome a Gambling Disorder
Gambling is a form of entertainment that involves risking something of value on an event whose outcome is determined by chance. Examples of gambling include purchasing a lottery ticket, betting on horse races, playing card games, and playing online casino games. While some people gamble for fun, others develop a compulsive gambling habit that can affect their family, work, and social life. If you have a gambling problem, there are many resources available to help you overcome it.
The first step in overcoming a gambling addiction is realizing that you have a problem. This can be a difficult step, especially if you’ve lost money and strained or broken relationships as a result of your behavior. It can also be helpful to seek treatment from a therapist, who can teach you the tools you need to deal with your gambling disorder.
If you or someone you know has a gambling addiction, it’s important to seek help immediately. This will help prevent the situation from deteriorating even further and will give you the best chance of recovering. Treatment options for gambling disorder may include psychotherapy, group therapy, and behavioral modification techniques. In some cases, you might need residential or inpatient care.
In the past, the psychiatric community has viewed pathological gambling as more of a compulsion than an addiction. However, in a move that has been widely regarded as a landmark decision, the American Psychiatric Association recently classified pathological gambling in the same category of impulse control disorders as kleptomania and pyromania (hair pulling).
According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition, a person has a gambling disorder if they:
(1) engage in any type of gambling behavior;
(2) have a persistent urge to gamble despite the negative consequences;
(3) have significant problems with their gambling behavior that interfere with their daily functioning;
(4) have a recurrent, uncontrollable urge to gamble, despite the negative impact on their lives;
(5) repeatedly attempt to reduce or stop gambling but are unsuccessful;
(6) often return to gamble after a loss and try to win back the money they lost (“chasing losses”);
(7) lie to family members, therapists, or employers about the extent of their involvement in gambling;
and (8) have jeopardized or lost a significant relationship, job, education, or career opportunity as a result of their gambling;
The biggest thing you can do to prevent a gambling addiction is to strengthen your support network. This can be done by getting involved with a book club or sports team, enrolling in an educational class, or volunteering for a charity. You can also get support from a peer-support group like Gamblers Anonymous, which is modeled after Alcoholics Anonymous. In addition, you should make sure to close your online betting accounts, remove credit cards from your wallet, and keep only a small amount of cash on hand. Lastly, it’s also important to seek therapy and address any underlying mood disorders that might contribute to your gambling addiction.