If you think that you have a problem with gambling, you are not alone. Many people who gamble have various reasons for doing so. They find it a way to escape from unpleasant feelings and unwind. Others gamble as a social activity. But, there are several ways to combat this behavior. One option is to avoid gambling altogether. Instead, focus on doing something productive such as exercising, spending time with friends who don’t gamble, or practicing relaxation techniques.
Problem gambling is a disorder in which a person has an urge to gamble despite the negative consequences. The condition can interfere with a person’s life in many ways, including financial, legal, and emotional problems. Previously, this condition was referred to as pathological or compulsive gambling. It was later recognized as Impulse Control Disorder by the American Psychiatric Association. Unfortunately, this disorder is not always easy to recognize.
Symptoms of problem gambling include anxiety or depression, betting more than one can afford to lose, or betting larger amounts than they should to achieve the same “high” as before. The number of hospitalisations associated with problem gambling has doubled in the last six years, including cases of psychosis and persons at risk of committing crimes. The number of problem gambling clinics is set to increase, with an estimated 14 more clinics due to be built by 2023-24.
Signs of problem gambling
While most of us enjoy gambling in moderation, there are signs of problem gambling that may require professional treatment. Problem gambling is a condition where you become obsessed with gambling, even if you know it’s causing negative consequences. Signs of problem gambling may vary depending on the type of addiction. Some of the main indicators include: dropping money into gambling machines or betting on sports. A problem gambler may also go on to pursue other activities once the draws are over.
Despite being a harmless pastime, gambling can lead to serious consequences if the behavior goes beyond moderation. This is the main reason why it’s often called a hidden addiction, since there are no obvious physical symptoms. It’s also easy to miss these symptoms, as they can be as discrete as a disproportionate amount of time spent on the phone. A person with a gambling problem may not even be aware that they’re exhibiting any of these signs until it’s too late.
Treatment options for problem gamblers
There are various treatment options for problem gambling, including behavioral therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, and psychosocial interventions. The latter is recommended for people with comorbid psychiatric conditions, which may worsen problem gambling. The best treatments for problem gamblers involve a team of professionals with varying levels of expertise. For example, behavior therapy focuses on replacing harmful beliefs and emotions with healthy ones. Family therapy can be beneficial to those affected by gambling disorders.
Another treatment option for problem gamblers involves self-help interventions. These methods are designed to help individuals develop new coping skills through the use of information workbooks and guided activities. Treatment providers often follow-up with the participants after completing the program. A structured plan of treatment helps problem gamblers learn new coping mechanisms. Self-help interventions include workbooks, motivational enhancement techniques, and brief telephone calls. They also address the root causes of problem gambling and help people identify their risk factors.
Symptoms of pathological gambling
Symptoms of pathological gambling disorder include preoccupation with and interference with social functioning. Gamblers with pathological gambling report increasing tension before a gaming event, known as anticipatory anxiety. This feeling is both pleasurable and fearful. Gambling reduces anxiety by temporarily avoiding stressful aspects of life. Often, pathological gamblers engage in dishonest behavior to win money. Pathological gambling can lead to a relapse if not treated.
Treatment for pathological gambling often begins with recognizing the problem and seeking professional help. People with this disorder often resist treatment and refuse to seek it. They typically only enter treatment when someone else forces them to. Cognitive behavioral therapy can help, as can self-help groups such as Gamblers Anonymous, which uses principles similar to those used by alcoholics to break the habit. Although the effectiveness of these methods is limited, treatment is highly effective.