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How to Overcome a Gambling Disorder


Gambling is a form of risk-taking where you stake something of value, like money, for the chance to win a prize. It can happen in a variety of settings, including casinos, racetracks, bingo halls, and even online. While most people who gamble do so without any problems, a small number of individuals develop pathological gambling (PG), which is defined in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders as a maladaptive pattern of gambling behaviors causing significant distress or impairment. PG usually starts in adolescence or young adulthood and is more common among men than women.

Psychiatrists treat PG with cognitive behavioral therapy and support groups. Cognitive behavioral therapy aims to change unhealthy gambling thoughts and behaviors. It can also help people solve the financial, work and relationship issues caused by gambling. It’s important to address underlying conditions that may contribute to the problem, such as depression or substance abuse, too.

Many factors can contribute to a person’s likelihood of developing gambling disorder, including family history and personality traits. People who have a high need for reward are more likely to engage in risky behaviors, such as gambling. They also tend to gamble more frequently and for longer periods of time than others. They may also be more likely to lie to loved ones about their gambling habits and be influenced by their environment.

Longitudinal studies are helpful in determining how and when a person becomes a problem gambler. They can help determine whether a person’s behavior is the result of environmental or personal factors and allow researchers to analyze how these factors affect gambling behavior over time. However, longitudinal research is difficult to do for several reasons. For example, it can be difficult to maintain a research team over a long period of time; it’s also challenging to control for aging effects and period effects (i.e., is a person’s sudden interest in gambling due to getting older or because a casino opened nearby?).

The biggest step toward overcoming a gambling addiction is acknowledging that you have a problem. This can be a tough thing to do, especially if you’ve lost a lot of money and hurt your relationships in the process. But don’t give up hope — many people have overcome this disorder and rebuilt their lives. The key is to get help as soon as you notice a problem, and counseling can be an invaluable tool in the journey. Get matched with an experienced therapist who specializes in gambling disorders. Start by completing our short, anonymous screening and get on the road to recovery today.