Gambling is a game of chance or skill in which people risk money, something they have or know, for the chance of winning a prize. It can take place in casinos, racetracks, at sporting events or online and is an addictive activity that can harm your physical health, relationships, performance at work or study, get you into trouble with the law and leave you in serious debt and possible homelessness.
Your loved one may have a gambling problem
If you think your loved one has a gambling problem, it can be hard to know how to help them. They might have a lot of conflicting emotions, including anger at themselves, frustration at their family and friends for letting them gamble, and guilt over losing all the money they have been putting into the gambling habit.
Often, they will not be aware that they have a problem and are just looking for a way to forget their worries or feel more self-confident. They will not realise that they are actually becoming addicted to the activity and that it is costing them more in terms of their health, work and social life than the money they win.
Understanding how your loved one has a gambling problem is the first step to helping them overcome it and find effective treatment. The best way to do this is by finding out how they have become addicted, what has motivated them to gamble and what their current lifestyle is like.
It is also helpful to understand how they have been affected by their gambling, and what the impact of their addiction has been on their family and work. This will help you to be more supportive and give them the help they need.
Treating gambling problems is a process that takes time, dedication and commitment to a healthy lifestyle. This means avoiding tempting environments and websites, surrounding yourself with people to whom you are accountable, giving up control of your finances (at least at first), and finding healthier activities that replace gambling in your life.
Cognitive behavioural therapy is the most common form of treatment for gambling disorders. It teaches you how to recognise when you are at risk of becoming addicted to gambling and teaches you to stop using gambling as a way to relieve unpleasant feelings, such as boredom or loneliness.
Psychodynamic therapy can also help people who have a gambling disorder. This type of therapy can help you to learn how your childhood experiences and other factors may have influenced your gambling habits. It can also help you to explore what your current experiences and emotions are, how they might have triggered or exacerbated your gambling and how you can cope with them in healthier ways.
Medications for gambling addiction
Taking medication for a gambling addiction can help with the symptoms of the disorder, such as cravings and irritability. Psychiatrists have found that drugs such as antidepressants and opioid antagonists can help reduce the cravings for gambling.