Gambling is the wagering of something of value on an uncertain event with the hope of winning something else of value. It is a widespread global activity and the most common form of illegal gambling is placing bets on football (soccer) matches. It is estimated that about $10 trillion of money is wagered on a regular basis. People gamble for a variety of reasons, including social and financial benefits. They may also gamble for entertainment or a sense of adventure. However, some people develop a problem with gambling. Those with gambling disorders often lose control of their betting behavior and experience severe and persistent problems.
Until recently, the psychiatric community viewed pathological gambling as an impulse-control disorder, along with kleptomania and pyromania. However, in its most recent edition, the American Psychiatric Association moved it to the section on addictions in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). It is now widely believed that this move was a major step forward in our understanding of gambling and gambling problems.
The nomenclature of mental health conditions has a significant impact on research and treatment, and it is no different in the case of gambling. Depending on their disciplinary training, personal experience and world view, research scientists, psychiatrists, other treatment care clinicians and public policy makers frame questions about gambling in different ways. As a result, the terminology that is used to describe the condition varies from one source to another.
There are several types of psychotherapy that can help a person with gambling disorder. These therapies focus on changing unhealthy emotions, thoughts and behaviors. They can be done individually or with family members. Family therapy can help repair damaged relationships and educate family members about the disorder. Group therapy can provide motivation and moral support. And psychodynamic therapy focuses on unconscious processes that influence behavior.
In addition to psychotherapy, individuals with gambling disorders can use several other coping skills. For example, they can learn to manage their stress in healthy ways and find other ways to spend their time. They can also address any underlying mood disorders, such as depression, that are contributing to their problem gambling.
People with gambling problems can also find help in support groups. For instance, they can join Gamblers Anonymous, a 12-step recovery program that is modeled after Alcoholics Anonymous. The goal is to help members overcome their compulsive gambling and live a fulfilling life without gambling. Other support services include telephone hotlines, online chat rooms and self-help websites. These resources can be very helpful, especially for people who do not have easy access to a mental health professional.