How to Overcome a Gambling Problem

Gambling involves wagering something of value upon the outcome of a contest of chance or a future contingent event not under one’s control or influence, with the intention of winning something else of value. It is not considered gambling to purchase or sell commodities (e.g., a stock or bond), contracts of indemnity or guaranty and life, health or accident insurance. There are many ways that people gamble: betting on a sports team, lottery tickets, casino games, video poker, and even online gambling. All forms of gambling have the potential to cause harm if an individual becomes addicted to them.

The first step to overcoming a gambling problem is admitting that there is a problem. This can be a difficult step, especially if the addiction has strained or broken relationships, ruined employment and/or finances, or caused other serious problems. But it is essential in order to begin the process of recovery.

Once a person acknowledges that they have a gambling problem, the next step is seeking help. There are several different types of treatment programs for people who have a gambling addiction. These treatments can range from self-help groups such as Gamblers Anonymous to residential or inpatient treatment and rehab programs. Other options for treatment include cognitive behavioral therapy, family and marriage counseling and financial counseling.

It is important for those who have a gambling problem to learn how to handle money and develop healthier spending habits. They also need to find healthier and more productive ways of relieving boredom, stress or negative emotions. This may include exercising, spending time with friends who don’t gamble, or practicing relaxation techniques.

For some people, the thrill of gambling is a form of escape from their everyday lives and worries. The ability to place a bet and have the possibility of winning big is an alluring prospect. In addition, gambling can provide a social outlet for those who are lonely or bored.

The problem is that for some individuals, gambling can become an all-consuming activity that takes over their lives. They can lose track of how much time and money they are spending on gambling, and even lie to their families about it. They may also start to feel compelled to bet more and more in a bid to win back lost money.

Over the past few decades, our understanding of pathological gambling has undergone a significant change. In the past, it was viewed as more of an impulse control disorder, a fuzzy category that included such conditions as kleptomania and pyromania. But, in the most recent edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, known as DSM, pathological gambling was moved to a section on behavioral addictions alongside other substance-related disorders such as alcoholism and drug addiction. This move reflects new research that shows that gambling disorder is comparable to other substance-related disorders in terms of onset, brain origin, comorbidity and physiology. The DSM-5 also notes that there are similarities between gambling disorder and other behavioral addictions such as compulsive shopping and kleptomania.

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