Dealing With Gambling Disorders


Gambling is risking something of value on an event that is at least in part determined by chance with the hope of gaining something of value. It includes betting on sports events, buying lottery and scratch tickets, playing card games such as poker, bingo or baccarat, putting money into an office pool, and even placing bets on video or online games. While most people who gamble do so without problems, some develop gambling disorder. This is a serious addiction that has been linked to severe mental health disorders, including depression and anxiety.

There are no FDA-approved medications for gambling disorders, but therapy can help. Cognitive-behavior therapy can teach you to recognize and resist your urges. You can also learn skills to deal with negative emotions, such as anger and sadness. Psychodynamic therapy may help you understand unconscious processes that influence your behavior, while group therapy can provide moral support and motivation. Couples and family counseling can help you repair damaged relationships and finances.

If you are struggling with a gambling disorder, it’s important to find ways to replace the rewards you get from gambling with healthier behaviors. Spending time with friends, exercising, eating well, and volunteering can all make you feel good, and can strengthen your support network. You can also seek peer support through a gambling-addiction recovery program, such as Gamblers Anonymous, which follows the 12-step model of Alcoholics Anonymous. Many states offer self-help groups for gambling problems.