A person engages in gambling when he stakes or risks something of value upon the outcome of a contest of chance or a future contingent event not under his control or influence. This includes betting on sports events, horse races, game shows, games of skill such as poker and blackjack, and lottery type games. It does not include bona fide business transactions valid under the law of contracts, such as purchases or sales at a future date of securities or commodities; or life, health or accident insurance.
A gambling addiction is a serious problem that can cause serious financial and personal problems, including debt, unemployment, family discord, and depression. It can also lead to alcohol and drug abuse and suicide. People who struggle with gambling addiction can benefit from therapy, which is designed to help them identify and overcome their underlying issues.
The first step to treating a gambling addiction is admitting that there is a problem. This can be a difficult step, especially for those who have lost large amounts of money or suffered from strained or broken relationships as a result of their addiction. However, it is important to remember that there are many people who have overcome their gambling addictions and rebuilt their lives.
Treatment for a gambling addiction may involve psychotherapy, group therapy, and family therapy. Individuals who suffer from a gambling addiction may benefit from psychodynamic therapy, which seeks to understand how unconscious processes can influence behavior. Family therapy can be particularly helpful for families affected by a loved one’s gambling addiction, as it can help to educate family members about the disorder and create a more stable home environment.
Pathological gambling (PG) is a complex and chronic condition, with about 0.4%-1.6% of Americans meeting diagnostic criteria for the disorder. It most often begins in adolescence or young adulthood and tends to affect men more than women. Males who develop PG are more likely to have trouble with strategic, face-to-face forms of gambling such as card games and blackjack, whereas females who develop PG tend to have problems with nonstrategic, less interpersonally interactive forms of gambling such as slot machines and bingo.
In addition to therapy, treatment for a gambling addiction may also include medication and self-control strategies. Self-control strategies may include setting a budget for how much you are willing to lose, closing online accounts, and limiting the amount of cash that you carry with you. It is also important to avoid situations where you might be tempted to gamble, such as attending a casino or betting site. Trying to win back your losses can be a dangerous trap known as “chasing your losses.”
If you are struggling with gambling addiction, it’s important to seek treatment. Talk to a therapist who specializes in addictions and can help you manage your symptoms. Find a therapist near you and get started with treatment today.