When you become addicted to gambling, you need to gamble more to get the same “high” that you experience before you quit. This vicious cycle leads to increased cravings, decreased willpower and weakened control over your urge to gamble. The consequences of gambling addiction are significant, and can negatively affect your life. Your health, family, social, and professional life are all affected. If you think you’ve become addicted to gambling, it is time to seek help.
Problem gambling is a behavior that affects one’s finances, relationships, and health. Gamblers may even engage in criminal activities. Symptoms of problem gambling can range from mild to severe and can progress over time. Gamblers may have a gambling problem in any demographic group. They may display signs and behaviors that are indicative of the problem, such as a preoccupation with gambling, a need to bet increasing amounts of money, and attempts to make up losses through gambling.
The term “problem gambling” has been around for centuries. Emil Kraepelin described the condition as “gambling mania.” More recently, the American Psychiatric Association (APA) published the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV) to describe the condition. In that manual, the criteria for problem gambling have changed. They have since relied on a more evaluative process, including surveying 222 compulsive gamblers and 104 substance-abusing social gamblers. In the process, researchers have developed nine criteria for diagnosing problem gambling.
Many people are at risk for compulsive gambling. The activity is a dysfunctional coping mechanism, used to avoid unpleasant emotions and stressors. The addictive nature of gambling results in psychological and social consequences. A person may be able to recover losses through more gambling. The individual is likely to lie about his or her habits. Compulsive gamblers may also engage in self-deception. Ultimately, they may be forced to face the problem and seek help.
Often, self-help groups are a part of treatment for compulsive gamblers. A health care provider can recommend these groups, such as Gamblers Anonymous, or help the person to join one. If the individual cannot get treatment alone, treatment options can include residential programs, structured internet-based programs, and telephone visits with mental health professionals. Treatment plans may also address substance misuse and other mental health issues. While many people with compulsive gambling recover over time, other people require more comprehensive care.
There are many different types of treatment for gambling addiction. Some options include individual or group therapy. Cognitive behavioral therapy, behavioral exposure therapy, and counseling may be used to treat this disorder. Individual or group therapy can also address relationship issues. Support groups are an effective way for people who are addicted to gambling to meet with other addicts and provide encouragement and support. Medications, such as antidepressants and mood stabilizers, may be prescribed for treatment.
Cognitive therapy and relapse prevention techniques are often used in combination with one another. Cognitive therapy is used to help patients correct their false beliefs about gambling, while relapse prevention has a higher success rate compared to no treatment. Cognitive therapy consists of techniques such as behavioral modification, which involves correcting negative perceptions about gambling. This method helps patients learn to manage their urges, and cognitive correction techniques can help individuals identify the triggers and patterns that trigger gambling behavior.
Signs of a problem gambler
There are many warning signs of a problem gambler. Excessive gambling can cause a person to spend money that they do not have, and they can even go as far as to try to commit suicide. These people often gamble because they feel hopeless and depressed, or because they want to escape slow boredom. They also suffer from acne, dark circles under the eyes, and pale skin. Despite their numerous problems, they may not be able to stop themselves from gambling.
Another warning sign is denial. A gambling addict often denies that they have a problem, and their friends will likely notice the problem first. But it’s important to note that most pathological gamblers are extremely deceptive and will often lie to cover up their activities and gambling losses. Be alert and take steps to get help as soon as possible. Don’t wait until you lose everything to try to cover up your addiction.