How to Overcome a Gambling Problem


Gambling involves betting something of value on an event that is determined at least in part by chance with the hope that you will ‘win,’ and gain something of value. While the term gambling may immediately bring to mind thoughts of slot machines or casinos, it is important to remember that gambling can take many forms. Playing bingo, buying lottery or scratch tickets, and even betting on office pools can all be considered forms of gambling.

In addition, some people make a habit of gambling for emotional reasons. They may find that it gives them a feeling of excitement and euphoria, or they may simply enjoy thinking about what they could do with the money if they won. In addition, some people engage in gambling for social reasons and consider it a fun way to spend time with friends.

There are some people who have a problem with gambling to the point that it interferes with their lives and causes significant distress. This behavior is known as pathological gambling and has been categorized by mental health professionals using criteria set forth in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, or DSM. The most recent version of the DSM lists pathological gambling alongside other addictive behaviors.

Several types of therapy can be used to treat people with gambling disorders. These include cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), psychodynamic therapy, and family and group therapy. In some cases, medications are also prescribed to help control gambling-related symptoms and address co-occurring conditions.

The most important thing for anyone with a gambling problem to understand is that they do not have to go it alone. There are many resources available for support and treatment, including self-help books, online forums, and peer support groups. Support groups can provide a place to discuss your problems with others who have similar issues and offer advice and encouragement. They can also help you build a strong support network that will encourage you to remain free from gambling.

In the past, individuals who suffered negative consequences from gambling were viewed as having gambling problems, but that view has changed significantly over the years. Increasingly, we understand that gamblers have psychological problems, rather than just gambling problems. The change is analogous to the evolution of understanding about alcoholics and alcoholism.

The most important thing that individuals can do to help themselves overcome a gambling addiction is to strengthen their support network and make changes in their environment. They can try to get involved in activities that are not related to gambling, such as joining a book club or sports team, enrolling in an educational class, or volunteering for a charitable cause. In addition, they can find a peer support group to join, such as Gamblers Anonymous, which is modeled after Alcoholics Anonymous and offers 12-step recovery programs. This can provide a foundation for long-term recovery and help with relapse prevention.