Gambling is an activity in which people bet something of value on an event that has at least some element of chance and hope to win a prize. Although some may be tempted to compare gambling to other activities, such as sports betting, a true gamble involves risking money or other valuable items on an event whose outcome is not guaranteed. For many people, this is a harmful activity that can lead to financial ruin and strain family and social relationships.
Problematic gambling can be caused by a variety of factors, including mood disorders. It is common for mood disorders to precede or exacerbate gambling problems, so addressing underlying depression, stress, substance abuse, and anxiety is important to help reduce the chances of becoming addicted to gambling.
People who are battling an addiction to gambling often find it difficult to admit that they have a problem. They may lie to family members, therapists, or employers to conceal the extent of their involvement. Some even commit illegal acts to fund their gambling habit, such as forgery, fraud, or theft. Many also end up jeopardizing their career, education, or relationships in order to continue gambling. In addition, those who suffer from compulsive gambling often experience feelings of helplessness, guilt, or depression.
Despite the stigma associated with the term “problem gambling,” many organizations provide support, assistance and counselling for those who have difficulties controlling their addiction to gambling. Depending on the organisation, they may provide information about how to stop gambling, assist in finding treatment and services, or offer support for families and friends of people affected by gambling problems.
While the Food and Drug Administration has not approved any medications to treat pathological gambling, there are several psychotherapy treatments that can help. One of the most effective is cognitive-behavior therapy, which teaches people to resist unwanted thoughts and habits. In addition, a type of psychotherapy called interpersonal psychotherapy can be beneficial to those who have trouble identifying and dealing with their emotions. It is also helpful for those who are prone to relapse, as it can teach them how to recognize the triggers that cause them to relapse. The best thing that you can do to combat a gambling disorder is to seek professional help. While it can be hard to admit that you have a problem, it is the first step towards recovery. For those struggling to find help, there are a number of organisations that offer peer-support programs based on the principles of Alcoholics Anonymous. They can also refer you to a therapist who specialises in treating gambling disorders.