Getting Help For Gambling Disorders


Gambling involves putting something of value, such as money, on an event that will be determined at least in part by chance. People gamble for a variety of reasons. Some do it to make social events more interesting, while others do it for financial rewards or because they like the rush and excitement of winning. But gambling can also have negative consequences, and can be dangerous for some people.

The first step in getting help for a problem with gambling is to seek counseling. Counseling can help people understand their addiction, think about how it affects them and their family, and consider options to solve problems. There are no FDA-approved medications to treat gambling disorders, but there are several types of psychotherapy that can help. One type of therapy is group therapy, which can provide support from peers and help people change unhealthy behaviors. Another type of therapy is called cognitive behavioral therapy, which helps people identify and change unhealthy thoughts and beliefs that contribute to their gambling disorder.

Another way to deal with a gambling addiction is to set limits for yourself. For example, you might decide to gamble only with a certain amount of disposable income each month, and once that money is gone, stop gambling. This method can be helpful for people who find it easy to lose track of time when they’re gambling, and it can help them avoid spending more than they can afford to lose.

Other things you can do to help with a gambling problem include learning how to handle stress in healthy ways, finding other things to do with your time, and addressing any coexisting mental health conditions. Many states have services for gambling disorder, and you can also call a national helpline or attend Gamblers Anonymous meetings. There are also residential and inpatient treatment programs available for those with severe gambling addictions, and research has shown that physical activity can help people overcome a gambling addiction.

Researchers use a variety of methods to study gambling, including behavioral experiments and surveys. Longitudinal studies follow a group of people over time, allowing them to identify the factors that moderate and exacerbate gambling behavior. This type of research can be used to develop effective gambling interventions and improve existing ones.

The high comorbidity of pathological gambling with substance abuse disorders and other psychiatric symptoms has led to its inclusion in the DSM-5. It is hoped that this move will increase awareness about the disorder, encourage screening, and promote effective treatments. The high prevalence of gambling disorder in the United States, together with the increasing evidence for its psychiatric nature, makes it important to identify and screen those at risk. It is a significant public health issue that needs to be addressed, and the American Psychiatric Association urges everyone to be vigilant in this regard.