Gambling disorders are proving to be much more common and more similar to substance addictions than previously believed, and drinking-related counselling can be successful in helping those with a gambling disorder break their habit.

So, first of all, have some sympathy. Understand how it is they’re trapped. Then help them seek out professional help. In my experience, the best therapists or counsellors – the most successful – are those who are very skilled at dealing with issues of self-control and how this relates to drug or gambling disorders. They behave in the way that people who have not failed with treatment have.

The Psychology of Risk

Gambling addicts describe the activity as a ‘totem pole’ or ‘wall’ they build up around themselves as a means of reducing a back-drop of baseline nervousness and anxiety; concurrent with this perception, many court a feeling of hope that the next win might be just around the corner, much like the core idea of drug dependency: mysticism and superstition abound, as in drug addiction.

However, gambling can create the same feelings of pleasure in the reward system of one’s brain, and bring about similar health problems such as stomach problems and insomnia to those carrying debt loads from playing the odds. Relationships with family and friends, as well as legal action by authorities against an individual or an individual/s, might also be strained.

It is frequently associated with mood disorders such as depression and, to a lesser extent, anxiety disorders. Pathological gambling can affect people of any age, gender, socioeconomic status or ethnic background, but it is more prevalent in young people with low self-esteem, poor impulse control and who are willing to take risks, as well as in those who have experienced childhood trauma or abuse, which increases their risk for the disorder.

The Psychology of Addiction

Gambling is fun for most individuals, but some individuals become ‘problem’ or ‘pathological’ gamblers. Their cravings can be as powerful as those for cigarettes, alcohol or other drugs – the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) even includes pathological gambling as one of the behavioural addictions.

Psychosocial therapy can guide the gambler to gain insight into their thought patterns and beliefs associated with their gambling – such as whether poor outcomes at gambling are due to bad luck or bad judgement, with a particular emphasis on whether the gambler is playing a skill- or non-skills-based game. Beliefs about the probability of a win/loss situation, and chasing losses, can be evaluated.

Shane Kraus is an assistant professor of psychology at the University of Nevada Las Vegas, leading its Behavioral Addictions Lab. His background is in psychopathology and dual diagnosis (mental-health co-occurring conditions) in high-risk populations, including military veterans. His research focuses on using behavioural and epidemiological methods to identify risk factors for addictive disorders or compulsive behaviour.

Self-Help Techniques

Gamblers with problems may need to make some lifestyle changes – such as regular exercise, restful sleep, eating properly and other sorts of mental health-promoting activity – but themselves and their partners can perform a basic screen so they can work with their doctor or professional to identify any problems in a timely manner. Also, gambling disorder is frequently correlated with depression, so it’s important to seek treatment for both conditions.

As such, some are more vulnerable to the disorder than others: gambling is more alluring to those with a lower income, as a win can make a significant difference to their life; and young males, especially those under 24, are far more likely to develop this condition than women.

Affected family members and friends can be heartlessly lied to, and more sinister consequences, such as spending a life’s savings or even theft to fund gambling activity, can also result. Social isolation can become the companion of the gambling addict, and has been shown to have long-term consequences for the addict’s mental health.

Seeking Help

And while more people are gambling for entertainment or pleasure, and the variety of options available increases, mental health experts worry that an increasing number of them will end up with a gambling disorder – a pathological habit that not only causes financial hassles, but also great emotional, family and social problems, and contributes to psychiatric co-morbidity such as depression, anxiety or substance abuse disorders.

To ober the addictiction of gamble is to overcome it: identifying the symptoms of gambling addiction is a very important step that gamblers experiencing addiction should learn before trying to overcome it alone, searching for self help guide, or simply with the support of those more close. If all these tricks may appears to difficult or not working then it’s time to ask for psychotherapy. A professional psychotherapist will be helpful, but may also take a lot of time and money.

CBT can assist someone to identify negative emotions, thoughts and behaviours that facilitate gambling and assist the person to change these.CBT might be used as a standalone intervention or combined with other psychological intervention techniques (such as motivational interviewing). Conditions like depression, anxiety and personality traits, such as antisocial personality disorder, increase the risk of gambling disorder.CBT may also help people if they experience a mental illness that also makes them more likely to gamble (such as depression could help with gambling addiction whilst anxiety could exacerbate it).

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