How to Overcome a Gambling Disorder


Gambling is any game in which you risk money or something else of value for the chance to win a prize. It may involve skill or chance, and can happen in a casino, racetrack, at home, on the Internet or by betting with friends. Some people have difficulty controlling their gambling and it becomes a problem that affects their family, work or finances. It can also lead to addiction and mental health problems. It is important to seek treatment if you have a problem with gambling.

There are several different types of therapy used to treat gambling disorders, including cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), psychodynamic therapy and group therapy. These therapies are often combined with other forms of therapy, such as family and individual counseling. It is important to find a therapist that has experience treating gambling disorders.

The most difficult step in overcoming a gambling disorder is admitting that you have a problem. You can find help by talking to a therapist or joining a support group such as Gamblers Anonymous. You can also try to get more exercise or spend time with family and friends. It is also a good idea to talk with your doctor or therapist about any mood disorders you have, such as depression or anxiety, as these can trigger or make worse a gambling problem.

Many people who have a gambling disorder have a family history of the problem. In addition, stress, poverty, and alcohol or drug abuse can increase the risk of developing a gambling disorder. The disorder can begin in adolescence or later in adulthood. It is more common in men than women and is more likely to affect middle-aged and older adults. It is more common in whites than in blacks and Hispanics.

A few key symptoms of a gambling disorder include: losing control of money; lying to family members, therapists or others about the extent of involvement with gambling; stealing or embezzling money to fund gambling; spending more and more time on gambling than usual; ignoring significant relationships or responsibilities because of gambling; engaging in illegal acts such as forgery, fraud or theft to finance gambling; or causing damage to property (American Psychiatric Association 2000).

The most serious consequences of gambling problems are financial losses and loss of jobs. In some cases, these problems can lead to bankruptcy and even homelessness. In other cases, they can strain or break relationships and lead to depression and other mental health problems. The most effective way to combat a gambling problem is to find healthier activities to fill your time. These can be as simple as taking up a new hobby or joining a book club or sports team. It is also a good idea to strengthen your support network and stay away from places where gambling is popular, like casinos or the Internet. Also, try to play games that you understand. It is more likely that you will win if you know the rules and strategies of the game you are playing.