Gambling is a game of chance in which the player wagers something of value on a random event with the hope of winning something else of value. It can also be considered the act of placing something of value on a future contingent event not under one’s control or influence, such as buying a ticket to a sporting event. There are several factors that may contribute to a person developing a gambling problem, including family history, personal and social environments, psychological traits and coexisting mental health conditions.
It is important for someone who suspects they have a gambling problem to get help as soon as possible. Seeking treatment can help an individual to identify unhealthy emotions and thoughts, develop healthy coping strategies and change their gambling behaviors. It is also important to note that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not currently approve any medications to treat gambling disorders; however, psychotherapy can be effective. Psychotherapy is a general term for many different treatments that take place in-person with a licensed mental health professional.
A person with a gambling disorder is often reluctant to admit they have a problem, particularly when it involves financial problems. This can lead to them hiding gambling behavior from friends and family or lying about it. They might also be relying on others to fund their gambling habits or to compensate for lost money, which can put their finances at risk. They might even be putting their health and relationships at risk by continuing to gamble despite negative consequences.
People who struggle with gambling often have a poor understanding of the odds and a tendency to discount risk. They also may be more impulsive and have trouble controlling their emotions. They might also have an underactive brain reward system or be genetically predisposed to thrill-seeking behavior and impulsivity. They may also have coexisting mental health conditions such as depression or anxiety.
In addition, a person who struggles with gambling may be using the activity to self-soothe unpleasant feelings or relieve boredom. There are healthier and more productive ways to do these things, such as exercise, spending time with friends who don’t gamble or practicing relaxation techniques. They can also seek out new hobbies and explore other sources of entertainment.
Getting help for a gambling addiction isn’t easy, especially if a person has already lost significant amounts of money or experienced strained or broken relationships as a result. But it is important to remember that it’s not too late to turn things around. Many people have recovered from gambling addictions and went on to rebuild their lives. The first step is acknowledging that there is a problem, which can be difficult but is ultimately empowering. The next step is finding a therapist who can support them through the recovery process. Thankfully, the world’s largest therapy service has an extensive network of vetted therapists ready to help. Get matched with a therapist today.