Getting Help For Gambling Problems


Gambling is a recreational activity where participants place wagers on games or events with a chance of winning money. People often gamble to alleviate stress, socialize with friends, or get a “rush” of excitement and euphoria. Regardless of the reason, gambling can be problematic if it begins to affect other areas of life, like finances, health and mental wellbeing, relationships and family, studies or work.

Getting Help When You Need It

Gambling can be a serious problem, but it doesn’t have to be. Behavioral therapy can help people who have a gambling problem to understand their behavior and how it is impacting their lives. It can also help them identify how they’re making decisions about gambling and what they can do to change them.

Understanding Gambling Terms

There are many different forms of gambling, such as casinos, sports betting, and online poker. Some are illegal or involve large amounts of cash and can be dangerous. Other forms are legal, such as lotteries. Some states allow people to play a lottery, while others have strict limits on how much they can bet.

Adolescents are especially vulnerable to problems with gambling. They are often unaware of the risks and may not understand that their gambling is negatively affecting their lives. This is called adolescent problem gambling.

Pathological Gambling

The American Psychiatric Association has changed its classification of pathological gambling from impulse control disorder to addiction in the DSM-5. This move reflects a better understanding of how gambling can develop into an addictive condition. Therapists have found that medications and therapy typically used to treat addictions work well for pathological gambling.

Medications such as opioid antagonists have been shown to be effective in treating gambling addiction, and a new class of antidepressants, naltrexone, has a similar effect. These drugs inhibit the brain cells that produce dopamine, reducing cravings for gambling.

Other treatments for gambling can include cognitive behavioural therapy, counseling, and support groups. These therapies focus on a person’s thoughts and emotions, and how they relate to their gambling. They can also address any co-occurring mental health issues, such as depression or anxiety, that may be contributing to their gambling problems.

Some individuals who have gambling problems can’t stop, even when they’re aware of the negative consequences it’s having on their life. They might find it difficult to control their behavior and lose their jobs or home. They might also be unable to stop losing money and have to lie to others about their gambling.

Gambling can be a fun way to spend time with friends, but it can also be dangerous. It can lead to debt, addiction and other mental health problems. Ultimately, it can make a person’s life difficult and ruin their chances of living a healthy and happy life.

The APA’s decision to add pathological gambling to the addictions chapter of the DSM-5 is a significant step toward defining a serious condition that can be treated with the same methods used for other addictions. The move will improve the way psychiatrists and other medical professionals treat this condition.