A form of risk-taking in which something of value is staked on a random event with the intent to win an equivalent amount of value. Gambling can be as low-risk as lottery tickets or as high-risk as a game of poker. Despite its prevalence, gambling is not a profitable activity. People who gamble compulsively often lose their money and even their friends and relationships. Those who seek treatment for gambling disorders can learn to control their urges and rebuild their lives.
Many factors may contribute to a person becoming addicted to gambling, including family history, genetics, and environmental influences such as adverse childhood experiences. A person’s temperament, especially proneness to boredom and the use of escape coping (gambling), impulsivity, and poor understanding of chance and probability can also play a role in developing a problem. It’s important to seek therapy for any mood disorders that may have contributed to or made worse a person’s tendency to gamble.
There are several types of psychotherapy that can help with a gambling disorder, including psychodynamic therapy and group therapy. Psychodynamic therapy focuses on unconscious processes that influence behavior. It is used to increase self-awareness and help you recognize how past behaviors influence current behavior. Similarly, group therapy can be helpful in providing support from others who struggle with the same issues as you.
Another important tool for addressing gambling disorders is cognitive behavioral therapy, which helps identify and challenge unhelpful thought patterns that can trigger and maintain problematic gambling. Changing these negative beliefs can help you gain control of your gambling habits and stop them from spiraling out of control. Other forms of psychotherapy that can help are marriage and family counseling, career and credit counselling, and addressing any underlying mood disorders that may have contributed to or been made worse by your compulsive gambling.
It can be extremely difficult to admit you have a problem, especially if you have lost a lot of money and strained or broken relationships along the way. However, it is vital to realize that your addiction is causing problems in all areas of your life. You can regain your life and repair relationships and finances with the right help.
It’s important to set boundaries in managing money and avoiding gambling. This includes not letting a loved one take your credit cards, having someone else manage your finances, and only keeping a small amount of cash on you when gambling. It’s also important to balance gambling with other activities, and to never gamble while you’re depressed or upset. Finally, avoid chasing your losses; the more you try to win back what you’ve lost, the larger your losses will likely be. This is not just a common myth; studies show that trying to recover lost money actually increases your chances of future losses. Psychiatry Central can connect you with a licensed, professional therapist who can help with your gambling disorder. Sign up today and get matched with a therapist in as little as 48 hours.