How to Cope With Gambling Disorders

Gambling is risking something of value, such as money or property, on an event with a chance of winning. It can vary from the buying of lottery tickets to more sophisticated casino gambling. It may be illegal or a part of a legitimate business. Regardless of the type of gambling, it is a dangerous activity that causes many people to suffer serious harm. Some people develop a gambling disorder, described in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5), as a persistent, recurrent pattern of gambling that is associated with significant distress or impairment.

People with this disorder experience difficulty controlling their gambling, which can lead to family and financial difficulties. They often try to hide their gambling and lie to others about it. They also may spend time and money on gambling even though it is causing them trouble in other areas of their life, such as work or relationships. Those who suffer from this condition are at increased risk for developing other problems, such as depression or anxiety.

The reasons people become pathological gamblers are varied. Psychologists and psychiatrists offer the traditional explanation that individuals are driven to gamble by certain personal psychological factors. However, these explanations were offered before the dramatic increase in gambling problems that began in the 1970s. It is likely that other non-psychological factors have contributed to the rise in problem gambling, including technological advances, new modes of communication, and changes in societal values and attitudes.

There are some things you can do to help reduce the likelihood of developing a gambling disorder. Talking about your gambling with someone you trust who won’t judge you can help. This could be a friend, family member or professional counsellor. Avoid high-risk situations such as using credit cards, taking out loans or carrying large amounts of cash with you. Try to find other ways to socialise and cope with emotions.

For those who have a gambling problem, therapy can provide help and support to recover. Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is one type of therapy that can be useful for people with gambling disorders. In CBT, a therapist helps the person identify faulty thoughts and behaviours and replace them with healthy ones. Changing these thoughts can help the person manage their impulses and make better choices in future.

Other therapies that can be used include family therapy, marriage and relationship counselling, career counseling, and credit counseling. These interventions can address the issues that have led to gambling problems and lay the foundation for restoring relationships and finances. In addition to these therapies, some people who have a severe gambling disorder can benefit from inpatient or residential treatment and rehabilitation programs. These programs offer round-the-clock support and are aimed at those who cannot control their gambling. They are also a good option for those who have a gambling disorder that is associated with other mental health problems. For example, some people with depression or bipolar disorder are more likely to develop a gambling disorder than those who do not have these conditions.

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