Gambling is an activity in which people risk money or anything else of value to predict the outcome of a game involving chance. Whether it’s the thrill of winning big or the prospect of losing everything, gambling can trigger feelings of excitement and euphoria. However, it’s important to understand the risks of gambling and how it can affect your mental health. In this article, you will learn more about the different types of gambling and what to do if you’re worried about your own or someone close to you’s gambling behaviors.
Gambling can take many forms, from scratchcards and fruit machines to video games and sports betting. It can also involve wagering with materials that have a value, such as collectible game pieces or cards in a card game such as Magic: The Gathering or Pogs. Some people find pleasure in gambling because it provides them with entertainment and a way to pass the time, while others do so as a way to relieve stress or to socialize with friends. People can even become addicted to gambling if they don’t know how to control their spending or if they’re trying to hide their gambling from family and friends.
The good news is that there are effective treatments for gambling addiction, including cognitive-behavioral therapy and group support groups like Gamblers Anonymous. In addition, the earlier a person seeks help, the more likely they are to recover from their disorder. If you have concerns about the gambling habits of a loved one, speak up and encourage them to get treatment.
While research has been conducted on the effectiveness of gambling treatment, longitudinal studies are crucial for identifying factors that moderate and exacerbate pathological gamblers’ participation in this behavior. These studies can also be used to determine the underlying causes of gambling disorders, which are often associated with mental health conditions such as depression and anxiety.
If you’re struggling with gambling addiction, it’s important to seek help as soon as possible. Getting help can improve your quality of life and allow you to rebuild healthy relationships with family and friends. Treatment programs include cognitive-behavioral therapy, family and marriage counseling, career and credit management, and peer support groups. For those with more severe cases of problem gambling, residential or inpatient gambling rehab may be necessary. During treatment, your loved one will learn how to recognize and manage their symptoms so they can overcome them and avoid relapse. Eventually, they’ll be able to stop gambling completely and regain control of their life. Until then, it’s important to stay strong and remember that recovery is possible. You can do this! Just don’t give up if you have a relapse. Instead, focus on regaining your strength and keep working toward recovery. You’ll be glad you did. Good luck! -Melissa O’Neill, Ph.D., MFT, is a mental health and substance use counselor at The Ranch at Southwind in Santa Barbara, California. She has extensive experience treating individuals with gambling disorders and other addictive behaviors.