Gambling is an activity where people risk something of value at an event whose outcome is uncertain. The goal is to win more than you have risked, whether it’s money or a prize like a vacation or an iPod or video game console.
The problem of gambling is increasing, and treatment for this addiction is becoming more necessary. Today, more than four in five Americans gamble, and for some, the habit is a serious compulsion that interferes with work and family.
APA Admits Pathological Gambling as an Addictive Disorder
In May, the American Psychiatric Association moved pathological gambling from the impulse-control disorders section of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) to the addictions chapter. It based its decision on new insights from psychology, neuroscience and genetics showing that the brain circuits involved in addictive behavior are more similar to those found in drug addiction than previously thought.
Behavioral therapies for compulsive gambling can be especially effective in helping you overcome your urge to gamble and learn healthy ways of controlling the impulse. This therapy can include cognitive-behavioral therapy and counseling with a licensed therapist, as well as medications to help you control the urge.
Your doctor or therapist can also help you determine if your problem is caused by an underlying condition such as depression, anxiety, OCD or ADHD. If so, these conditions might need to be treated before you can get help for your gambling addiction.
It’s important to make a plan for how you will manage your gambling finances. This will help you establish limits, and it will make it easier to stop if you start losing too much money.
When you know you have a problem with gambling, you can reach out for support from professionals and friends who have experienced the same thing. These counselors can help you understand the root of your gambling habits and set you up for success.
You can also seek the advice of a financial advisor to help you create a budget that allows you to manage your gambling without sacrificing other important aspects of your life. It’s also helpful to have an understanding of the legal rules surrounding gambling in your area.
The odds of winning aren’t very good in most games, so it’s a smart idea to set a limit on how much money you can lose. Once that amount is reached, you should stop playing.
Avoid gambling when you’re stressed or upset. You need a clear head to avoid making decisions that you will later regret.
One of the biggest mistakes a gambler can make is to start chasing losses by playing more after a loss. This is called the “gambler’s fallacy” and will only lead to more money being lost.
Take a Break
It’s tempting to play for hours on end when you’re having a great time. But the longer you play, the more likely you are to lose. It’s also a good idea to put a limit on how much money you can spend each day or week on gambling.