Gambling involves risking something of value, often money, to predict the outcome of a game or contest of chance. This can be done in a variety of ways, including through scratchcards, fruit machines, and betting with friends. If the gambler is correct, they win money; if they are wrong, they lose it. It is possible to become addicted to gambling, and it is important to seek help if you suspect you may be affected.
In the past, the psychiatric community generally viewed pathological gambling as more of a compulsion than an addiction. It was, for example, placed in a category of impulse control disorders that included kleptomania, pyromania and trichotillomania (hair-pulling). However, during the 1980s, the American Psychiatric Association updated its Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) and moved pathological gambling into the section on addictions. This was a significant shift in understanding, similar to the change that occurred regarding alcoholics and alcoholism.
Several treatments are available for people with gambling disorders. Psychotherapy can be helpful for those who are unable to stop gambling, and there are many different types of therapy. Some options include family therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, and psychodynamic therapy. Group therapy is also an option for those with gambling disorders, and this can be a great way to build support networks and find motivation to continue treatment.
Longitudinal studies on gambling behavior are becoming more common, and they can provide valuable information about how gambling influences a person’s life. These studies can also be useful in identifying a person’s specific triggers to gambling. However, longitudinal studies on gambling are difficult to conduct because of problems with funding and the ability to maintain research team continuity over a long period of time. Also, there are difficulties with assessing for period effects and aging effects.
The first step in getting help for a gambling problem is to admit that there is a problem. This can be a difficult step, especially if the gambling has cost you a lot of money or has damaged your relationships with others. It is important to remember that you are not alone in your struggle; many people have overcome gambling addictions and rebuilt their lives. For those who have serious problems with gambling, inpatient or residential treatment programs are available to provide round-the-clock care and support. You can also get help by limiting how much you gamble, when you gamble, and how much money you gamble with at one time. It is also important not to lie to your family members about how much you gamble or hide evidence of your gambling habits. You can also ask for help from friends and loved ones. These strategies can be very effective in reducing or stopping gambling behaviors, but the biggest factor in overcoming gambling problems is finding the right therapist for you.