How to Overcome a Gambling Addiction


Gambling involves risking something of value on an event whose outcome is uncertain, with the hope of winning more than what was initially invested. In the United States, most adults and adolescents have placed some type of bet, and a significant subset develop gambling disorder, described in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders as persistent and recurrent gambling that is associated with distress or impairment.

People in their early 20s are the fastest growing group of gamblers, and they are at greater risk for developing a gambling disorder than other age groups. It is important to understand the risks and learn how to recognize a gambling addiction so that you can seek treatment.

One of the most difficult aspects of overcoming a gambling addiction is admitting that there is a problem. It takes a great deal of strength and courage to face up to your compulsive behavior, particularly if you have lost significant sums of money and strained or broken relationships as a result. But it’s not impossible to break the habit, and many former gamblers have been able to reclaim their lives and rebuild their families.

A major challenge for researchers is identifying what drives gambling behavior, since the process is so complicated and multifaceted. There are a number of potential causes, including stress, substance abuse, depression, anxiety, and psychiatric disorders such as bipolar disorder. In addition, the addictiveness of gambling can often be linked to an underlying problem such as unemployment or debt.

To help people who are struggling with gambling addiction, it is important to have a strong support system. This can include family members, friends, co-workers, and community support groups such as Gamblers Anonymous. It is also helpful to find other ways to spend your time and address any other mental health issues you may have.

It is important to only ever gamble with money that you can afford to lose, and to set a time limit for yourself when gambling online. It is also worth avoiding playing games that you don’t understand well, as this can increase the chances of making mistakes and losing money.

Research has shown that cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) can be effective in helping to change unhealthy gambling thoughts and behaviors, including rationalizations and false beliefs. It can also teach you skills for coping with gambling urges and solving financial, work, and relationship problems caused by problem gambling.

In some cases, a person with a gambling problem will have an underlying condition that needs to be treated, such as undiagnosed depression or bipolar disorder. These individuals can benefit from medication or psychotherapy, as well as lifestyle changes. For example, it is often helpful for a person with an eating disorder to address their food intake and make healthier choices. In addition, it is often useful for someone with depression to practice relaxation techniques and exercise. Finally, it is a good idea to consider joining a peer support group for problem gamblers, such as Gamblers Anonymous.