How Gambling Can Turn Into a Problem
While most adults and teenagers have placed a bet of some kind, gambling is not without its risks. For some, it becomes an addictive habit that can cause serious problems with their work and family life. The American Psychiatric Association has officially classified pathological gambling as a form of impulse control disorder. This is a group of related disorders that also includes kleptomania (stealing), pyromania (burning objects) and trichotillomania (hair-pulling).
In order to be considered gambling, three things must be present: consideration, risk, and a prize. Consideration is the amount of money that the player or players pay to gamble. Risk is the possibility of losing that money or something else of value, and a prize is the expectation that winning will yield a gain. There is no skill involved in a game of chance that relies on randomness, and there is no way to predict the outcome of an event based on prior experience or knowledge. In addition, a bet can’t be taken back.
When people think of gambling, they usually imagine slot machines or casinos. However, many other activities can be considered gambling, such as playing bingo, buying lottery or scratch tickets, and betting on office pools. It is important to note that these activities are not necessarily bad, but they should be treated with caution.
Research shows that most gamblers do not develop a problem, but for those who do, treatment can be beneficial. A therapist can help someone who struggles with gambling to better understand the reason why they are gambling and how to stop the behavior. Several different approaches are used in the treatment of gambling disorder, including cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), psychodynamic therapy, and group therapy.
It is also helpful for loved ones of a person struggling with gambling to understand how the behavior can become an addiction. This will allow them to better empathize with the person and understand why they continue to engage in this behavior despite the negative consequences that it can have on their lives.
The first step in overcoming a gambling addiction is admitting that there is a problem. While this can be difficult, it is the first step towards recovery. The next steps include identifying triggers and implementing strategies to prevent or stop the behavior. These may include limiting online gambling, having the bank make automatic payments, closing betting accounts, and keeping only a small amount of cash on hand at all times. Lastly, it is important to build a support network and seek professional help. It is helpful to join a support group such as Gamblers Anonymous, which is modeled after Alcoholics Anonymous. A sponsor, a former gambler who is recovering from gambling disorder, can provide guidance and support. It is also beneficial to strengthen family and social relationships. This can be done by spending more time with friends, engaging in sports or hobbies, enrolling in education classes, volunteering, and attending support groups such as those offered by gambling recovery centers.