How to Overcome a Gambling Disorder

The act of gambling involves wagering something of value on an uncertain outcome. It includes activities such as betting on sports events, playing card games, horse races and lotteries. Some people engage in these activities for recreational purposes, but others suffer from serious gambling disorders. This disorder causes significant problems for gamblers and their families. It can cause financial ruin, strained relationships and other personal and professional issues. It is important for family members and friends to seek help when a loved one has a problem with gambling.

Gambling is often characterized as an activity that requires skill, but the fact is that it is mostly a game of chance. For example, some knowledge of cards or horses may increase the likelihood of winning certain games, but these skills are insufficient to eliminate the element of luck that determines the results of most gambling activities.

While a small percentage of the population enjoys gambling for recreation, most people who gamble do so to win money. In addition, many of those who have a gambling disorder exhibit other mental health problems and personal character traits that contribute to their addiction.

Symptoms of gambling disorder include a desire to gamble even when it leads to negative consequences, lying to family and friends to conceal the habit, stealing or selling belongings to fund gambling, and using gambling as a way to avoid facing life’s difficulties. Those who suffer from gambling addictions are also more likely to develop other mood disorders such as depression and anxiety. These mood disorders can trigger gambling and make it difficult to stop.

If you suspect that you have a problem with gambling, talk to a therapist about it. There are several types of psychotherapy, which can help you identify and change unhealthy emotions and behaviors. Many people with a gambling problem are able to overcome it by seeking help.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration hasn’t approved any medications to treat gambling disorder, but some therapists offer specific techniques to help clients overcome their addiction. Some of these techniques include cognitive behavioral therapy and motivational interviewing. During these sessions, your therapist will ask you about your relationship with gambling and other aspects of your personality. They’ll also help you find healthy ways to spend your time and reduce risk factors, such as using credit cards and carrying large amounts of cash. Other coping strategies include attending support groups, such as Gamblers Anonymous, and avoiding gambling venues where you’re likely to see your addiction triggers. Some of these groups provide family and marriage counseling as well. They can help you work through the specific issues that gambling has caused in your family and rebuild relationships. They may also suggest addressing any underlying mood disorders that contribute to your gambling behavior. These can include depression, stress and substance abuse. This can be a tough step to take, especially if you’ve lost money or strained relationships because of gambling.