Dealing With Gambling Problems


Gambling is the act of risking something of value, usually money, on an event with an uncertain outcome. It involves the desire to win more than you have invested, often by using a system of rules and strategy. People gamble in casinos, racetracks, on the Internet and at sports events. They may also play card games, video poker, bingo, lottery and keno. The main types of gambling are:

The majority of people who gamble do so for fun and never become addicted. However, for some individuals, gambling can become a problem. Pathological gambling (PG) is characterized by recurrent and relapsing maladaptive patterns of gambling behavior. PG usually starts in adolescence or young adulthood and develops into a disorder several years later. Men are more likely to develop PG than women, and they tend to begin gambling earlier in life.

A number of treatment options are available for people with a gambling disorder, including cognitive-behavioral therapy and self-help groups. These treatments teach people to change the way they think about gambling and how to avoid triggers. They also help them to confront irrational beliefs such as the belief that a series of losses or close calls signal an impending win. They also learn to control risk factors, such as the use of credit cards and carrying large amounts of cash.

Individuals with a gambling disorder can find support from family and friends, as well as professional counselors. Counseling can help them deal with their underlying issues, such as depression or anxiety. It can also help them understand the nature of their addiction and consider alternatives to gambling, such as spending time with friends who don’t gamble or taking up new hobbies.

It can be difficult to cope with a loved one’s gambling problems, especially when they threaten the stability of your household finances. If you are the primary caregiver of a person with a gambling problem, you can take steps to prevent their gambling from jeopardizing your financial security. For example, you can establish boundaries in managing their money and insist on a deposit before they spend any money, stop allowing them to access your bank accounts and close their online betting accounts. Alternatively, you can get them into debt counseling or ask a qualified therapist to help them work through their emotional issues.