Gambling addiction is a behavioral addiction that impacts individuals who tend towards taking risks. It involves engaging in gambling activities despite harmful consequences.
People suffering from gambling disorder will frequently lie to cover up their behavior or use of money, becoming restless or irritable when trying to stop or reduce. Their gambling can also cost them jobs, relationships, education opportunities or career advancement.
An individual suffering from gambling disorder often feels powerless to stop their urge to gamble, leading them to spend money they don’t have or even steal in order to gamble more, leading them down a path towards financial disaster. They may also find it impossible to stop thinking about gambling and become preoccupied by it.
An assessment can assist in identifying whether depression or anxiety could be contributing to gambling behavior and, if so, medications for these conditions can often reduce urges to gamble.
Warning signs for gambling problems may include making unsuccessful efforts to reduce or cease gambling, feeling restless or irritable when trying to stop or reduce it, lying about how much time and money has been spent gambling, borrowing to finance it, or lying about how much gambling time and money are being spent. People with histories of mood or personality disorders such as schizophrenia and antisocial personality disorder are at increased risk for developing gambling disorders that could either trigger or worsen gambling problems.
Psychosocial treatments for gambling disorder have proven the most successful options. Individual or group therapy are highly effective treatments; cognitive behavioral therapy specifically can address self-defeating thoughts that lead to gambling; studies on relapse prevention have produced promising results, such as decreasing time spent gambling.
Recovery services extend beyond counseling, offering marriage, family and credit counselling that can assist individuals in identifying any underlying issues that contribute to gambling behavior and setting healthy boundaries.
Gambling addiction often co-occurs with other mental health disorders, including depression or anxiety. Gamblers also frequently seek relief from financial strain by borrowing money from friends and acquaintances – which often backfires and creates more emotional stress and discomfort. Refusing to lend money may be one effective means of curtailing risky gambling behaviour, while medications like Escitalopram, lithium and Naltrexone have shown promising results during randomised clinical trials for treating gambling disorder.
Gambling can have severe repercussions for individuals and families. It can negatively impact careers, family relationships and finances as well as emotional distress and mental health problems if left unchecked. Therefore it’s essential that individuals recognize symptoms of gambling disorder early and seek treatment when needed.
Prevention strategies include avoiding high-risk situations, such as using credit cards, taking out loans or carrying large sums of cash with you. Reducing risk factors also includes avoiding gambling venues, restricting internet access and not participating in online sports gambling websites as well as keeping to a budget. Diverting yourself with new recreational and leisure activities may also prove helpful and medications to treat co-occurring mood disorders like depression or anxiety may prove useful when treating gambling disorders.
Studies have demonstrated the efficacy of guided self-help interventions such as workbooks and informational calls as effective treatments for gambling addiction. Support groups and counseling may also prove invaluable; conversing about gambling with someone who won’t judge you is also invaluable.
Gambling problems can wreak havoc in relationships, disrupt work environments and lead to financial ruin. They also often cause emotional distress and physical health complications; yet many find it hard to admit they have an addiction problem and seek treatment; many even relapse even after receiving therapy.
Studies of relapse among Problem Gamblers (PGs) have uncovered various precipitating factors, including: state of mind, incorrect cognitions and expectations, emotions, environmental triggers, boredom, warning signals of impending relapse, boredom as a trigger and self-control difficulties. Some factors may only apply specifically to gambling disorder while others could apply more generally to addictive behaviors.
Behavioral therapy techniques may help decrease gambling cravings, including exposure therapy, imaginal desensitization and cognitive restructuring. Psychologists also employ motivational interviewing – an approach designed to strengthen an individual’s own motivation to change their behavior – which has proven highly successful for treating relapses associated with gambling disorders. It is crucial to identify, avoid and cope with all circumstances, thoughts or feelings which could trigger gambling urges in order to remain compliant and healthy.