Gambling occurs when someone stakes something of value, typically money, on an event that has some element of chance and the potential to yield a prize. It can take many forms, including lotteries, cards, games of skill, dice, racing events, sports contests and even the Internet. It is estimated that some 10 trillion dollars are wagered legally each year worldwide.
The Food and Drug Administration doesn’t approve any medications to treat gambling disorder, but psychotherapy techniques can help you manage your behavior and emotions. These treatments include cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and motivational interviewing. These techniques empower you to change unhealthy thinking patterns and behaviors. You also learn to cope with stress and other negative feelings in healthier ways.
Those with a gambling problem often hide their addiction from family members and colleagues. They may lie about their activities, even to the point of stealing money or using credit cards to fund their gambling habit. In addition, those with a gambling disorder are more likely to have other mental health issues, such as depression or anxiety.
The best way to combat a gambling problem is to seek treatment. If you can’t afford treatment, look for a free debt counseling service, such as StepChange. Other options include strengthening your support network, finding healthy activities to occupy your time and addressing any other mental health issues you may have. You can also join a gambling recovery group, such as Gamblers Anonymous, a 12-step program modeled after Alcoholics Anonymous.