Despite the fact that most adults and adolescents have gambled, only a small percentage develop pathological gambling. People with this disorder can experience serious problems that disrupt their lives. They may lose control over their spending, lie about their gambling, and jeopardize their health. They also tend to have high levels of psychological distress. Gambling disorder can be found among women and men of any age, but it is more common in younger people. It can be triggered by trauma and social inequality. It can also run in families. People with this disorder are at risk of a variety of health problems, such as heart disease, depression and anxiety.
The first step in overcoming a gambling addiction is acknowledging that you have one. This can be difficult, especially if you have lost a lot of money and damaged relationships due to gambling. But many others have overcome this disorder and rebuilt their lives.
It can help to find a support network. Consider talking to friends who don’t gamble, joining a book club or sports team, or taking up new hobbies. It can also be helpful to attend group therapy for gambling disorders, such as Gamblers Anonymous. This 12-step program, modeled after Alcoholics Anonymous, helps you connect with other people who have struggled with gambling disorder and get the motivation and moral support you need to stay on track.
Psychotherapy can be an effective treatment for gambling disorders. Cognitive-behavioral therapy, for example, teaches you to recognize and resist unhealthy thoughts and behaviors. You can learn to confront irrational beliefs such as the belief that a loss is “just a coincidence” or the notion that a close miss, like two out of three cherries on a slot machine, will lead to a win.