Treating a Gambling Addiction


Gambling involves wagering something of value on the outcome of a game or event that relies on chance, such as scratch-off tickets, casino games or sports betting. It can be a fun pastime, but it can also lead to addiction and damage relationships, careers and finances. It can even contribute to mental health issues, and Public Health England estimates that more than 400 people may kill themselves each year as a result of problem gambling.

Despite the potential for problems, gambling is more popular than ever. It is now legal in every state except Utah and Hawaii, and online gambling is growing rapidly. Unlike drugs and alcohol, which can be controlled with medication, there is no approved drug for gambling addiction. However, there are a number of effective treatment methods.

The first step in treating a gambling addiction is recognizing that there is one. It can be a difficult thing to admit, especially if you have lost a lot of money and strained or broken relationships as a result of your gambling habits. However, if you can take that first step, then you are on your way to overcoming your addiction.

Gambling has become a highly profitable industry that offers many forms of entertainment. The most common form of gambling is at casinos, where people place bets on the outcome of a game of chance. Other forms of gambling include horse racing, lottery, video poker and internet sports betting. Many states use the revenue from these activities to fund government operations, including education and other public services.

People who have a gambling disorder can be found in all walks of life. Some are impulsive by nature, while others are more likely to be influenced by family history and environment. People who have a family history of depression, anxiety or substance abuse may be at an increased risk for developing a gambling disorder.

Symptoms of gambling disorder can be mild or severe, and they can begin in adolescence or early adulthood. It is important to seek treatment, because the condition can have a negative impact on work and relationships.

There are several different types of therapy for people who have a gambling disorder, including cognitive behavioral therapy and psychodynamic therapy. Some patients may be referred to inpatient or residential programs, which offer round-the-clock support for those who need it.

There are also several ways to reduce your gambling activities, such as strengthening your support network, exercising, taking up a new hobby and practicing relaxation techniques. Many people turn to gambling to self-soothe unpleasant emotions or boredom, and it is important to learn healthier ways of doing so. For example, instead of gambling to relieve boredom, try reading a book, spending time with friends who don’t gamble, or participating in social activities such as a sports team or club. You can also find peer support groups, like Gamblers Anonymous, which is modeled after Alcoholics Anonymous. BetterHelp can match you with a therapist who specializes in gambling addiction, so you can get the help you need.