Dealing With Gambling Problems


Gambling is any activity in which you stake something of value on the outcome of a random event, with the hope of winning a prize. It can be done in casinos, racetracks, on the Internet or even at home through video poker and slot machines. There are many ways to gamble, and most people do at least some gambling, whether it’s buying a lottery ticket, betting on horse races or playing video games. But for some, gambling becomes a problem. When it gets out of control, it can cost you your money, your health and even your relationships.

The psychiatric community once regarded pathological gambling as a form of impulse control disorder, similar to other impulse-control disorders such as kleptomania and pyromania. However, this year the American Psychiatric Association moved pathological gambling into the addictions section of its Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), which will make it easier to get treatment. The move is based on scientific evidence that indicates that pathological gambling has similar biological effects as other forms of addiction.

In the past, psychologists have used cognitive-behavioral therapy to treat gambling problems. This type of therapy helps people learn to resist irrational thoughts and behaviors. During this type of therapy, patients may also learn to recognize the triggers that cause them to gamble and practice healthier coping strategies. For example, some individuals gamble to relieve unpleasant emotions such as boredom or loneliness, and others take part in this activity after a stressful day at work or following an argument with their spouses. Regardless of the cause, these individuals can learn to relieve their moods and boredom in healthier ways by exercising, spending time with friends who don’t gamble, or trying new hobbies.

A major concern of those struggling with a gambling problem is the loss of money. The good news is that you can help to prevent this by setting financial limits and sticking to them. You can also limit the amount of time you spend gambling by establishing a set amount of time to gamble and leaving when that time is up, even if you are winning. You should also avoid chasing your losses, as this can lead to larger losses than you would have otherwise experienced.

If you are worried about a family member or friend who is addicted to gambling, seek professional help as soon as possible. There are several types of counseling available for those suffering from problem gambling, including family therapy and marriage, career and credit counseling. If you are able to stop gambling, it can be beneficial to keep in mind that this is not an easy process, and relapses are common. To stay on track, you can consider getting rid of all your credit cards and putting someone else in charge of your finances, avoiding online gambling sites and keeping only a small amount of cash on you at all times. By taking these steps, you can protect yourself from the dangers of gambling and start to reclaim your life.