How to Overcome Gambling Disorders


Gambling is an activity in which money or something of value is staked on the outcome of an uncertain event with the primary intent of winning additional money or material goods. It requires three elements: consideration, risk or chance, and prize. Although gambling can be seen in a wide variety of places, it is most commonly associated with casinos, racetracks and other gaming facilities. However, it can also occur in other types of venues, such as gas stations, church halls and sporting events. It may also be done through the Internet.

The most important step in overcoming gambling addiction is acknowledging that you have a problem. This can be a difficult step to take, especially if your gambling has led to financial ruin and strained or broken relationships. But the fact is that many people with a gambling problem have been able to break free from the habit and rebuild their lives. The key is finding the right therapist to work with. Several different therapies have been used to treat gambling disorders, including cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), psychodynamic therapy and group therapy. Several of these approaches have been shown to be effective for people with this type of disorder, though different approaches may work better for various individuals.

Pathological gambling, or PG, is defined by recurrent maladaptive patterns of behavior that result in significant impairments in multiple areas of functioning. Approximately 0.4% to 1.6% of Americans meet the criteria for PG. PG often begins in adolescence or young adulthood and tends to run in families. It is more common in men than in women. It is more likely to develop with nonstrategic forms of gambling, such as slot machines and bingo, than in strategic, face-to-face games, such as poker or blackjack.

While it is difficult to pinpoint the exact cause of PG, some researchers have theorized that a combination of genetic and environmental factors is most likely to contribute to its development. Historically, most treatments for PG have been integrated approaches, but these have only had varying degrees of effectiveness. It is possible that the different conceptualizations of PG and the underlying assumptions of therapeutic procedures have contributed to this inconsistency.

If you are struggling with a gambling disorder, get help immediately. The first step is to seek out a therapist, and there are many resources available. Reach out to a local support group or consider online therapy options, such as Talkspace, the world’s largest therapy service. You can be matched with a licensed and professional therapist in less than 48 hours. The therapists you connect with will be experienced working with patients with gambling problems and will know how to help you overcome this challenge. In addition, they can provide additional support by helping you set boundaries and regain control of your finances. They can also recommend healthy ways to relieve unpleasant feelings and alleviate boredom, such as exercising, spending time with friends who do not gamble, or taking up a new hobby.