Getting Help For Gambling Disorders


Gambling involves putting something of value, usually money, at risk on an event with an element of chance and the hope of gaining something of greater value. It can involve betting on events such as games of chance, horse races, sports, cards, dice, etc. It can be done in casinos, lotteries, online, on TV and even at home. It has been around for thousands of years. The first known evidence of gambling was discovered on ancient Chinese tiles dating back to 2,300 B.C.

For many people, gambling is a fun and harmless pastime. However, for some, it can become a serious problem. It can have adverse consequences on health, relationships and work, and lead to a cycle of debt and borrowing. It can also cause depression and anxiety. For those with a gambling addiction, it is important to seek treatment.

According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), there are 10 criteria that can help determine whether someone has a gambling disorder. These include: (1) a loss of control over the amount or frequency of gambling; (2) lying to family members, therapists and others in order to conceal how much he or she is involved in gambling; (3) attempts to recover losses by gambling more money, which is called chasing; (4) risking one’s personal safety or that of other people; (5) a preoccupation with gambling; (6) an obsession with winning; and (7) an inability to stop gambling.

Individuals who are vulnerable to developing a gambling problem include those with low incomes, particularly men, adolescents and young adults. They are also more likely to have other mental health problems, such as depression, bipolar disorder, or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). They may be more likely to be attracted to the lure of high-stakes gambling because they think that it will provide a way out of their financial hardship.

There are many ways to get help for a gambling problem, including cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), which helps you change unhealthy thinking and behavior and learn healthier coping strategies. Other treatments include psychodynamic therapy, which explores unconscious processes that influence your behavior; and group therapy, such as Gamblers Anonymous. You can also try self-help tips. If you have a loved one with a gambling problem, talk to him or her about it. Be supportive and listen without judgment. Remember that they did not choose to gamble and they likely do not know how the process of gambling works. They are likely to be seeking the adrenaline rush of a win or simply escaping their worries and anxieties. Reach out for support, and consider joining a family support group for problem gamblers like Gam-Anon.