If you are struggling with gambling, there is help. The first step is to recognize that you have a problem. This can be difficult, especially if you have lost money or damaged relationships as a result of your addiction. It takes tremendous courage to admit you have a problem, but many people with gambling disorder are able to recover and rebuild their lives.
In the past, the psychiatric community did not treat pathological gambling as an addiction. It was viewed as more of a compulsion, a behavior that is driven by an impulse rather than by a desire for pleasure. However, in the latest edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), the American Psychiatric Association has placed pathological gambling in the same category as other impulse-control disorders like kleptomania, pyromania, and trichotillomania (hair-pulling). This move was made because studies show that gambling is more than just a compulsion; it is an addictive process that alters brain chemistry and causes people to gamble compulsively.
Gambling is one of humanity’s oldest activities. Evidence of the practice is derived from written documents and objects found in tombs, from the earliest regulated betting on horses to modern lottery games. Its origins are thought to be divinatory: by casting marks on sticks, sticks and other materials, early man sought to gain knowledge of the future and God’s intentions through luck and chance.
The earliest forms of organized gambling arose out of religious and social obligations and legal requirements. Throughout history, governments and private organizations have taken a range of positions on gambling: from seeing it as a vice and human weakness to seeing it as an essential economic activity; from outlawing it to taxing it heavily. In the early 21st century, four out of five Western nations have legalized some form of gambling.
While there is no cure for gambling disorder, a variety of treatment options can help people break the habit. Psychotherapy, which is a broad term that refers to several types of treatments, can help you identify and change unhealthy emotions, thoughts and behaviors. Psychotherapy can include family therapy, individual counseling and group therapy. It can also involve pharmacotherapy, which uses drugs to reduce or eliminate cravings.
In addition to psychotherapy, family and marriage therapy can help you work through the specific issues that have been created by your addiction. Financial management strategies can also help you take control of your finances and protect yourself against relapse.