Gambling is a popular pastime, but for some, it can be dangerous. Problem gambling can lead to family, health, financial and career problems. It can also cause emotional distress. It is important to recognize the signs of problem gambling and seek help.
There are many risk factors for gambling disorders, including genetics and environment. Trauma, poverty, and social inequality may contribute to a gambler’s addiction. It can also be caused by other mental health conditions, such as depression or anxiety. The signs of gambling disorder include thinking about gambling all the time, losing control over money or spending more and more time gambling.
The social costs of gambling are difficult to measure. Gambling can divert resources from other community activities and can result in negative economic impacts, such as job loss. Additionally, gambling can lead to criminal behavior. In one study, adolescent gamblers stole money from family members and other sources and sold possessions. They were also more likely to be recruited by gangs, which demanded money and other valuables.
Individuals who engage in harmful gambling may experience psychological and physical consequences, including mood swings, memory impairment, irritability, difficulty sleeping and an increased risk of suicide. Gambling can also cause relationship problems, with spouses or children suffering as a result of financial instability.
Behavioral therapy can be effective in treating gambling disorder. It can help individuals identify and change their underlying thoughts, behaviors and emotions that contribute to gambling addiction. It can also help them learn healthier ways to cope with unpleasant feelings and boredom, such as exercising, spending time with friends who don’t gamble, or practicing relaxation techniques.
Some people can overcome their addiction to gambling by themselves, but most require professional treatment. There are several treatment options available, including cognitive behavioral therapy and family therapy. There are also support groups for those with a gambling problem, such as Gamblers Anonymous. In addition, some medications are available to treat co-occurring conditions, such as depression or anxiety, which may contribute to gambling addiction.
It can be challenging to deal with a loved one who has a gambling problem. It can be tempting to rationalize their requests for “just this one last time.” However, it is important to set boundaries and stay in charge of your own finances. Consider getting debt advice from StepChange to protect yourself and your family. You can also reach out to a therapist with BetterHelp, an online service that matches you with a licensed therapist for any problem you’re having, including addictions and relationships. Try our quick and easy assessment, and get matched with a therapist in as little as 48 hours. You can also call our national helpline for free, confidential advice. No matter what, remember: it is never too late to get help.