Help for Gambling Addictions

Gambling, by definition, involves placing a bet with something of value with an uncertain chance of either winning or losing. While many enjoy gambling for entertainment purposes only, others become addicted and experience serious complications as a result of problem gambling – these issues affecting not only themselves, but their families, friends, communities, legal and financial ramifications as well.

Gambling refers to any activity involving betting on an event or outcome, such as sports competition, card game or lottery drawing. A person may also gamble by purchasing or selling products and services, investing money into new business ventures or using devices that simulate the act of gambling like video poker machines.

Problem gambling is a behavioral condition characterized by an increasing urge to gamble despite its harmful consequences, often with an irrepressible urge. Gambling disorder falls under impulse control disorders similar to alcoholism and drug dependency. Gambling disorder was first added to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders published by the American Psychiatric Association in 1994.

Gambling disorders may be more likely to appear among men, young adults, ethnic minorities and those from low income families. Low-income earners also have more to lose when gambling than those from higher-income backgrounds; an estimated 5-8% of adolescents and young adults who gamble develop gambling disorders.

Gambling addiction can have devastating repercussions for those involved, yet there are steps that can be taken to minimize harms associated with it. First step should be enhancing support networks and making new relationships that don’t revolve around gambling; seek professional help such as inpatient/residential treatment programs as they offer around-the-clock assistance that helps people learn how to stop.

Take steps to limit your exposure to gambling by eliminating credit cards from your wallet, having your bank make automatic payments, closing online betting accounts and keeping only small amounts of cash on hand. Furthermore, counseling could help address underlying causes for your gambling behavior such as depression or anxiety.

As the spouse or parent of a problem gambler, you can help support them by taking on responsibility for household finances and credit. Join a gambling support group, such as Gamblers Anonymous – a 12-step recovery program similar to Alcoholics Anonymous that can provide guidance from former gamblers as they work on recovery from addiction; family therapy sessions as well as marriage, career and credit counseling may also prove helpful; remember, seeking assistance will increase chances for recovery from such devastating issues.