How to Recognize and Treat a Gambling Addiction


Gambling involves betting something of value on events determined in part by chance, in the hope of winning more money or material goods. Examples of gambling include slot rolet online machines, lottery tickets and placing bets on sports events or horse races as well as office pool betting. Gambling should be taken seriously as it can have serious repercussions for one’s personal and family lives if it becomes habitual and interferes with everyday tasks and relationships.

Problem gambling is an addictive behavior that negatively impacts health, relationships, finances and suicide. It may lead to depression, substance use disorder, debts, bankruptcy and suicide for those affected by it. Many who have gambling disorders struggle with acknowledging their condition until it reaches crisis mode; then only seek professional assistance at that time.

Signs of gambling addiction may include:

Feeling an urge to gamble more frequently than usual. Spending more time and money gambling activities. Gambling even after incurring greater losses. Being restless or irritable while trying to reduce or stop their gambling.

Additionally, genetic and biological factors may play a part in contributing to gambling addiction. Some individuals may have an underactive brain reward system or are predisposed to engaging in thrill-seeking behaviors and being more impulsive than expected.

Studies have demonstrated the impact of gambling on mental health issues for some individuals, while studies also indicate a small percentage of individuals may become pathological gamblers (PG). It tends to affect men more than women and can manifest either during adolescence or young adulthood; often runs in families and is associated with social and economic circumstances.

Individuals suffering from gambling disorders can find relief through various types of therapy. Individual and group counseling provide invaluable coping skills training as well as support during relapses, while cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and psychodynamic therapies may address underlying causes that led to addiction in the first place. Family therapy as well as marriage, career and credit counselling may also be effective ways to overcome specific difficulties caused by gambling and establish healthy financial and interpersonal relationships in later years.

Some individuals who struggle with gambling issues can successfully stop on their own, while many require assistance. Some find relief through self-help groups such as Gamblers Anonymous or physical activity programs; or by seeking other forms of treatment like getting a referral for medication from their physician. Others find they are more successful when working with a trained therapist with expertise in treating gambling disorders. Furthermore, family and friends can provide much-needed support. People experiencing unpleasant emotions and boredom can explore healthier means to relieve these discomforts, such as exercise, spending time with non-gambling friends, starting a new hobby or practicing relaxation techniques. Altering their leisure activities may also reduce their craving for gambling; budget gambling as an expense and limit how much money will be gambled away each week.