How to Cope With a Gambling Addiction
Gambling is an activity wherein a person places something of value on an event with the intention of winning some other item of value. Unlike other activities that are considered to be games of skill, such as sports or music, gambling involves betting on a random event, the outcome of which is determined largely by chance. Some people engage in this activity for fun, while others do it as a way to make money. It is a form of risk taking and can lead to addiction in some cases.
It is estimated that 0.4-1.6% of the US population meets criteria for pathological gambling (PG). It can occur as early as adolescence or in late adulthood and may be caused by a variety of factors, including trauma, social inequality, and genetic predisposition. Men tend to develop PG at a faster rate and are more likely to begin gambling in adolescence or early adulthood than women. It can also be caused by the use of drugs and alcohol.
The most effective treatments for PG are cognitive-behavior therapies that teach a person how to resist the urge to gamble. They also help a person understand how gambling works and challenge irrational beliefs about gambling, such as the idea that a string of losses or a near miss on a slot machine will eventually lead to a big win. The use of a gambling disorder specialist can be especially helpful, as they are trained in identifying and treating problem gambling.
Other treatment options include family therapy, marriage counseling, and career or credit counseling. These can help individuals work through the specific problems that have led to their gambling addiction and create a foundation for repairing relationships and finances. There are no medications approved for treating PG, but some may be used to treat co-occurring conditions such as depression or anxiety.
For those struggling with a gambling addiction, it is important to seek treatment as soon as possible. It can be difficult to admit that you have a problem, but it is the first step in getting help. Once you have done this, it is important to be open and honest with your loved ones about your addiction. This will make it easier for them to offer support and encouragement.
Another important aspect of coping with a gambling addiction is setting boundaries for yourself. For example, you should close any online gambling accounts and keep only a limited amount of cash on hand. You should also consider putting someone else in charge of managing your financial matters, such as your bank account or credit cards. It is also important to remember that gambling is often a form of coping, and it can be used as a way to forget about other stressors in life. While this doesn’t absolve a person of responsibility for their actions, it can help you to be more understanding when they ask for “just one more chance” or try to justify their behavior by citing coping reasons.