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Dealing With Gambling Disorders

Gambling is a popular pastime for many people, whether it be playing card games like poker or blackjack, placing bets on sporting events or lottery numbers, or simply betting money on online casino games. For some, however, gambling becomes an obsession that can cause significant problems in their personal and professional lives. According to a 2013 study, about 2.5 million adults (1% of the population) would be considered to have a severe gambling problem. In addition, 5-8 million adults are estimated to have a mild or moderate gambling problem.

A compulsion to gamble can be caused by several factors, including genetic predisposition, a lack of other activities that provide pleasure and excitement, and certain mood disorders such as depression or anxiety that may be triggered or made worse by gambling. In fact, gambling disorder is now included in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders as an addictive behavior, just like substance addiction.

When an individual first starts gambling, their brain’s reward system is activated and gives them a temporary feeling of pleasure and euphoria. They might then continue to gamble in the hopes of winning more money and experiencing this same feeling of euphoria again, but they will likely lose more and more in the process. This is because the odds of winning are against them, and they have a low chance of hitting it big.

This can lead to compulsive gambling, which affects all areas of their life, including work, home, and relationships. The biggest step to overcoming this disorder is realizing that you have a problem. Once this happens, there are a variety of treatment options that can help.

Counseling: Individual, group, and family therapy can help address the issues that are contributing to the gambling disorder. Therapists can also teach clients healthier ways to relieve unpleasant feelings and boredom, such as exercising, spending time with friends who don’t gamble, or taking up new hobbies. In addition, counselors can teach patients relaxation techniques to help them deal with stress and anxiety.

Medications: There are no FDA-approved medications for gambling disorders, but there are some that can help with other conditions that are contributing to the problem, such as depression or anxiety. In addition, some antidepressants can help with cravings for gambling.

Inpatient and residential programs can provide around-the-clock support for individuals with gambling disorder, as well as instill a healthy lifestyle and teach them skills to manage their finances. In addition, specialized outpatient programs can help individuals identify and control their urges to gamble by teaching them strategies for avoiding casinos, limiting their access to credit cards, and helping them establish other sources of enjoyment and entertainment. They can also help them learn how to make healthy bets on their favorite sports and online casino games. Moreover, these programs can help them build healthy relationships with family and friends. This way, they can stop the cycle of losing money and chasing their losses and start a fresh new beginning.

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