Gambling is the act of placing something of value on an event whose outcome is determined at least in part by chance with the hope of winning a prize. Examples of gambling include betting on a sporting event, buying lottery or scratch tickets, or playing bingo. While many people associate gambling with casinos and slot machines, any activity in which money is exchanged for a possible chance of winning a prize can be considered gambling.
A person who has a gambling disorder may experience several symptoms and warning signs. These may include: a) thinking about gambling constantly, or being preoccupied with thoughts of money and gambling; b) lying to family members, therapists, or employers about how much time they spend gambling; c) making excuses to avoid spending time on other tasks, or finding ways to justify gambling; d) trying to win back lost funds by wagering more money, or chasing losses (the belief that one will eventually get lucky and recoup the previous loss); and e) a history of legal problems related to gambling (forgery, theft, embezzlement, or fraud).
It’s important for family and friends to understand the nature of this disorder so they can help their loved ones seek treatment. Therapy can be very helpful to those struggling with this disorder, especially psychodynamic therapy, which focuses on unconscious processes that influence behavior and can lead to impulse control issues. Group therapy is also very effective, as it allows people to support and motivate each other while learning to manage their problem.
Another type of treatment that can be very beneficial to people with gambling disorder is longitudinal research. This type of study tracks individual participants over a long period of time, and can help identify factors that moderate and exacerbate gambling participation. This method of research is often cheaper and more efficient than studying a smaller number of individuals at a single point in time.
Getting professional help is the first step in breaking the cycle of gambling addiction. It takes a lot of courage to admit that you have a problem, especially when it’s cost you a large sum of money and has strained or broken relationships. In addition to individual therapy, it’s also a good idea to consider marriage and family counseling, as well as career and credit counseling, which can help you work through the specific problems caused by your gambling addiction and rebuild your life. Lastly, it’s a good idea to join a peer support group such as Gamblers Anonymous, which is modeled after Alcoholics Anonymous and can be a valuable source of guidance, motivation, and moral support. Also, be sure to set firm boundaries in managing your money, close online gambling accounts, and keep only a small amount of cash on you at all times. This will help you stay accountable to yourself and prevent the impulsive urge to gamble. You can also try to replace the activities that you used to do with gambling by exercising, joining a social club, or taking up a hobby.