Gambling is a form of risk-taking in which someone places something of value (money, property or possessions) upon the outcome of a contest of chance or on a future contingent event not under one’s control or influence, with the hope of winning. It excludes bona fide business transactions valid under the law of contracts, such as a contract for the purchase or sale at a future date of securities or commodities, and agreements to indemnify against loss by the happening of a specified event, such as life, health, or accident insurance.
Those who suffer from compulsive gambling often feel they are compelled to gamble for money or credit, to escape boredom, loneliness, anxiety, depression, stress, and other mood disorders. They may also attempt to compensate for a feeling of low self-esteem or as a way to socialize with friends or family. They can lose a lot of money, causing financial problems and strained or broken relationships. They can even become homeless, which is particularly common among those with uncontrollable gambling habits.
People who have an addiction to gambling experience symptoms that are similar to those of substance abuse disorders, such as a lack of control over their behavior, the tendency to engage in risk-taking, and the presence of denial. In addition, they may engage in illegal activities to fund their gambling, such as forgery, embezzlement, or theft. They may lie to family members, therapists, or other people to conceal the extent of their involvement in gambling. They may be at risk for relapse because of feelings of shame, guilt, and anxiety or because they cannot afford to pay back their losses.
There is a wide range of treatment options for those who have an addiction to gambling. Many of these treatments involve some form of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). The goal of CBT is to help patients change their negative thoughts and behaviors and replace them with more healthy ones. In addition, the underlying mood disorders that can trigger or be made worse by gambling must be addressed.
It is important for those who are addicted to gambling to seek treatment to avoid further losses and damage to their personal and professional lives. There are a variety of treatment programs available, including group therapy and family or individual counseling. Individuals with gambling disorders should also seek support from friends and family who are not involved in their problem.
Realizing that you have a gambling disorder is the first step in overcoming it. Then, you can work to address the underlying issues and begin to rebuild your life.