Are you having trouble controlling your urge to gamble? If so, there are many things you can do to help yourself. There are various self-help groups and support groups for people who have problem gambling, as well as a National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP. There are also ways to get physical activity to increase your energy level and reduce your gambling urges. Self-help groups like Gamblers Anonymous and Gam-Anon are also an option.
The term problem gambling is used to describe a type of compulsive gambling disorder. In this case, a person feels an inexorable urge to bet money on an item, despite the risk that the activity will have negative consequences. Problem gambling often interferes with a person’s life. Primary signs of problem gambling are preoccupation with gambling and a loss of control over one’s behavior. A problem gambler may also hide evidence of gambling, skip out on family events, or feel guilty about it. Eventually, the condition may reach catastrophic levels.
Treatment options for problem gambling range from counseling to step-based programs to medication. There is no one best treatment for pathological gambling, but these interventions have been shown to be effective for some people. Until recently, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration had not approved any medications for this condition. In general, though, behavioral interventions are the first line of treatment for gambling addiction. Although the effectiveness of these approaches has yet to be proven, they are helpful in managing a person’s problem gambling behavior.
Some of the common symptoms of gambling addiction are similar to depression, and these two problems can go hand in hand. For instance, a person suffering from gambling addiction may be more likely to feel fatigued, unhappiness, or lethargy than someone who has depression. Because these conditions are not easily controlled, treating the problem through dual diagnosis is necessary. The following are some of the most common symptoms of depression and gambling addiction. If these symptoms describe you, it is time to seek professional help.
Pathological gambling is characterized by persistent, maladaptive gambling behavior. In the US, 0.4 to 1.6% of adults meet the criteria for pathological gambling. It often begins in adolescence and develops many years later. Men and women are equally likely to suffer from pathological gambling, and the gender ratio is roughly 2:1. Women, however, develop PG more rapidly than men, and they begin gambling at a younger age. Additionally, men report problems with strategy-based gambling while women report problems with non-face-to-face gambling.
A key part of treatment for gambling addiction is therapy. A therapist works with an individual or a group of clients to help them explore underlying issues, learn new behaviors, and avoid falling back into old patterns. In addition, group therapy provides an opportunity to connect with others who share similar problems. Psychopharmacological medications may also be prescribed to help a person overcome co-occurring disorders such as depression or anxiety. The right treatment for gambling addiction may be the answer for you.
In addition to therapy and medication, treatments for compulsive gambling can be a combination of both. For example, medication is used to treat bipolar disorder, which is a common cause of problem gambling. Therapy also addresses co-occurring psychiatric disorders, which can further drive a person’s gambling behavior. It may also include financial counseling and self-help interventions. However, treatment for gambling addiction is only as effective as the individual’s willingness to change.