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Gambling Disorder

What is Gambling Disorder?

Gambling Disorder is diagnosed when an individual cannot control their urge to continue gambling despite the toll that it takes in their life. In other words, they are willing to risk everything they have, even if it is something they truly value, in hope of getting something of even greater value. The urge to gamble can be as severe as the urge an individual may feel when they feel the need to consume alcohol or drugs. When an individual has a problem with gambling, they often chase bets that can lead them to losses, they may hide their behavior, finish any savings they may have, get into debt, or may even turn to theft as a resort to get what they want.

What are the symptoms of Gambling Disorder?

  • An individual is constantly preoccupied with gambling (i.e. they are planning and looking for different ways to get more money, so they can gamble)
  • An individual may feel an increased need to gamble a great amount of money
  • An individual may try to stop gambling, but they do not succeed
  • An individual may feel restless when they attempt to cut back on gambling
  • An individual may engage in gambling to escape problems or feelings of depression or anxiety for example
  • An individual will try to get the money lost in gambling by gambling more
  • An individual may begin to lie to their loved ones so that they can get away with it
  • Because of gambling, an individual may begin to lose friendships, relationships, jobs, or partners for example
  • An individual may ask others to help them engage in gambling by asking them to lend them money or asking them to help them pay their debt

Individuals who gamble can stop when they want to or when they have lost however, when an individual begins to gamble excessively and express the symptoms above, they may be experiencing Gambling Disorder.

What causes Gambling Disorder?

Although there is not one known cause, individuals who may suffer from other mental health disorders (i.e. anxiety, depression, or Obsessive-Compulsive Disorders), a certain age (younger and middle-aged), men, or certain personality characteristics (i.e. competitive, impulsive, restless, or a workaholic) are at higher risk of developing such disorder. In addition, if your loved ones have problems themselves with gambling, you may also be at higher risk of developing such disorder. Furthermore, such disorder can lead an individual to develop relationship problems, financial issues, legal problems, poor general health, poor work performance, or even suicidal thoughts.

How is Gambling Disorder treated?

Although it can be hard to treat because an individual may not accept that they have a problem, the following may be used to treat such disorder:

  • Therapy
    • Behavior Therapy
      • Uses systematic exposure to the behavior individual wants to unlearn and then the individual is taught skills to reduce the urge to gamble.
    • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
  • Medications
  • Support Groups

What can I do to cope with Gambling Disorder?

  • Stay focused on your number 1 goals
  • Remind yourself of the consequences that gambling may bring to you
  • Recognize and avoid situations that can trigger your urge to bet