How Gambling Disorders Can Be Treated

Gambling is the risking of something of value (money, property, or other items of value) on the outcome of a game or event with an uncertain result that may be determined by chance. People gamble for a variety of reasons. Some gamble for social or entertainment purposes, while others do it to relieve boredom or stress. Occasionally, gambling can become a serious problem. People who have trouble controlling their urges to gamble often experience negative consequences in their lives, such as debt, family problems, and legal issues.

There are several types of psychotherapy that can help people with gambling disorders. These include cognitive behavioral therapy, which teaches people healthy ways to handle their emotions and behaviors. It also helps them learn how to deal with their triggers and overcome their irrational beliefs. Other types of psychotherapy, such as interpersonal therapy, can help them repair their relationships and find healthy ways to relax.

A person can be diagnosed with pathological gambling (PG) if they have recurrent patterns of compulsive behavior that interfere with their daily functioning. Those with PG often start gambling in adolescence or young adulthood and develop their problem over time. They have difficulty making decisions that take the long term impact of their actions into consideration. They also tend to think that they are more likely to win than they actually are, and they may believe that specific rituals can bring them luck. They often have a hard time stopping gambling even when they are losing money.

Although the underlying causes of pathological gambling are complex, researchers have identified some factors that increase the likelihood of developing an addiction to gambling. These factors include a genetic predisposition to addictive behavior; early exposure to gambling, particularly in the form of lotteries and arcade games; and stressful life events or a history of depression or other mental health problems. Some studies have found that a person is more likely to develop a gambling disorder if they are male or if they have a family history of the condition.

While there are no medications that treat a gambling disorder, some can help treat co-occurring conditions such as depression or anxiety. A person who has a gambling disorder can get help from friends and family, a support group, or a counselor. They can also learn healthier ways to cope with their feelings, such as exercising, spending time with friends who don’t gamble, or practicing relaxation techniques.

A person who is struggling with an addiction to gambling should seek help as soon as possible. This is especially important if they are having financial difficulties. They can get free debt advice from StepChange or speak to a debt adviser about their options. A therapist can also help them develop healthy ways to manage their money and identify any other problems that might be contributing to their gambling habits, such as untreated depression or anxiety. They can then work with a treatment specialist to create an appropriate plan of action.