Whether it’s buying lotto tickets, placing bets on sporting events or using the pokies, gambling is an activity that many people engage in for leisure. It can be a fun activity but, for some, compulsive and excessive gambling can lead to financial problems and harm to relationships. If you’re concerned about your gambling habits, talk to a therapist.
Gambling is an addictive behaviour, but recognizing that you have a problem can be difficult, especially if it has led to debt or strained your relationships. There are a number of steps you can take to help overcome your gambling addiction, such as seeking support from family and friends or attending a self-help group for families like Gam-Anon.
The underlying cause of problematic gambling is an impulse-control disorder, similar to those caused by kleptomania (stealing) and pyromania (setting things on fire). But a few years ago, the psychiatric community decided to change the way it classified this disorder. It now includes pathological gambling in the same section of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual as other impulse-control disorders such as kleptomania and trichotillomania (hair pulling).
Many different therapies can be used to treat gambling disorder, including cognitive behavioral therapy and psychodynamic therapy. CBT can help you learn how to identify triggers and develop healthy coping mechanisms, while psychodynamic therapy can increase your understanding of unconscious processes that influence your behavior. Alternatively, you can use the world’s largest therapy service to get matched with a licensed and vetted therapist who can help you overcome your gambling problem.