Gambling is a popular pastime that can give you the thrill of winning money and feeling a rush when you’re on a roll. But it can also be very addictive and lead to compulsive gambling which is a mental health disorder.
People gamble for many reasons – to win cash prizes, socialise with friends or escape from their worries or stress. However, if you find that your gambling is taking up too much of your time and money or you’re betting more than you can afford to lose or borrowing funds to gamble, then it may be time to seek help.
Pathological gambling (PG) is a psychiatric disorder that’s characterized by persistent and recurrent maladaptive patterns of gambling behaviors. The condition can have serious consequences on your health and relationships, and it’s estimated that between 0.4-1.6% of Americans meet the criteria for a diagnosis of PG. Those with PG tend to begin gambling in adolescence or young adulthood and develop a problem several years later.
There are a number of different treatment methods for PG, including psychotherapy and medication. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration hasn’t approved any medications specifically to treat PG, but some types of psychotherapy have shown promise in helping people overcome their gambling addictions. These treatments include cognitive-behavioral therapy, which teaches people to resist unhealthy thoughts and habits; group therapy, which provides support from other people who have similar problems; and psychodynamic therapy, which examines unconscious processes that influence behavior.
If you want to try to overcome your addiction to gambling, start by making some lifestyle changes. Only gamble with disposable income and never use money you need to pay bills or rent, and set a time limit for yourself when gambling and leave when that time is up. Avoid chasing lost money – the more you try to win back what you’ve already lost, the more likely you are to lose even more, and don’t gamble when you’re depressed or upset, as it can be difficult to make good decisions.
You should also try to find other ways of relieving boredom or stress, such as exercise, spending time with friends who don’t gamble, and practicing relaxation techniques. It’s also important to address any other mental health issues you may have that could be contributing to your gambling problem, such as depression or anxiety.