Pathological Gambling

Gambling is an activity in which people risk money or items of value upon the outcome of a contest of chance. It may take the form of a game of chance, such as a lottery or scratch-off ticket, or it could involve skill, such as card games or sports wagering. Regardless of the type of gambling, people engage in it because of a desire to win. The psychological effects of gambling can be detrimental to a person’s mental health, relationships, and work or school performance. https://frontdeskdds.com/

While many people gamble for fun, some find themselves gambling out of control and are unable to stop. This is a disorder known as pathological gambling. It is often compared to substance use disorders and has similar symptoms, including loss of control over gambling, preoccupation with gambling and obtaining funds to gamble, and irrational thinking. The changes in DSM nomenclature that have highlighted the similarity of pathological gambling to other addictions reflect a growing body of research suggesting that pathological gambling shares many features with substance use disorders (American Psychiatric Association, 1980, 1987, 1994; Lesieur, 1988; Rosenthal, 1989).

The prevalence of pathological gambling is unknown. However, it is believed that between 2 and 4 million adults in the United States meet diagnostic criteria for a severe gambling disorder, and a large number of others engage in problematic gambling behaviors to an extent that negatively affects their lives. Moreover, research suggests that the frequency and intensity of gambling problems increase with age, and a significant number of individuals with gambling disorders have other psychiatric conditions (e.g., depression, anxiety).

Some people develop a problem with gambling as a result of an underlying condition such as bipolar disorder. This is referred to as a co-occurring condition and is typically treated in combination with treatment for the gambling disorder. The most common treatments for gambling disorders are cognitive-behavioral therapy and relapse prevention.

The first step in overcoming a gambling problem is realizing that there is a problem. Then, you can seek help from a therapist or support group. For example, a therapist can teach you how to recognize and resist urges to gamble by challenging irrational thoughts and beliefs about gambling. A therapist can also help you develop healthy coping mechanisms and identify and solve problems that arise because of a gambling problem, such as financial issues or troubled relationships. You can also seek support from family and friends or join a self-help group for families affected by gambling, such as Gam-Anon. You can also reach out to BetterHelp, an online service that matches you with a licensed therapist who can help with gambling and other mental health concerns. It’s free, confidential, and available 24/7. Start by taking our assessment, and you’ll be matched with a therapist in as little as 48 hours. You can also call the national gambling helpline for assistance and information. A national hotline is available at 1-800-662-HELP. It’s never too late to get help for a gambling disorder!