Gambling is an addictive activity in which people place bets on unknown events. Various types of gambling are possible, ranging from gambling on sports to betting on precious stones. But, sometimes, the urge to gamble can lead to a problem referred to as pathological gambling, which is also known as compulsive or gambling addiction. Problem gambling is characterized by the persistent and uncontrollable urge to play, despite negative consequences. Problem gambling has been associated with significant personal and social harm, but the combined percentage of those affected is a small one – less than 5 percent.
Problem gambling affects people from all walks of life
Problem gambling is an addiction that causes harm to the body and mind. It is often misunderstood, and even health professionals can have difficulty identifying problem gamblers. There are few outward signs of this addiction, unlike substance abuse, which can cause slurred speech and track marks. However, people of all backgrounds are susceptible to problem gambling. If you or someone you know is struggling with problem gambling, don’t feel alone. There are ways to recognize signs of problem gambling.
Although many people associate problem gambling with the middle aged and the young, the fact is that it can happen to anyone, regardless of age, gender, and social status. In fact, research has shown that one of the fastest-growing groups of problem gamblers is the elderly. The baby-boom generation is retiring, and senior problem gamblers may be bored with retirement or experiencing loneliness because they are no longer working or socializing. Senior problem gamblers may appear withdrawn, uncommunicative, and vague when explaining their activities.
It can be a sign of other addictions
One sign of a problem with gambling may be a comorbid mental illness or substance abuse disorder. People who have co-occurring disorders such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and impulse control disorders are at an increased risk of developing a gambling addiction. Although some of these problems are manageable, some people cannot be cured of them alone. In such a case, a dual diagnosis is necessary.
When an individual is addicted to gambling, they will deny their problem. Ultimately, the signs of pathological gambling will become apparent. The core symptom of addiction is lying. Pathological gamblers will do everything in their power to cover up their problem. They will lie about where they are, what they are doing, and what happens to their money. Once these behaviors begin, it may be time for therapy.
It can be treated
Compulsive gambling disorder can be treated through rehabilitation programs, medication, and intensive therapy. It affects about 10 million people in the United States, or 2.6% of the population. The American Psychiatric Association says that there is currently no FDA-approved medication for this disorder. However, there are numerous ways to prevent the disorder and learn about treatment options. The first step to overcoming compulsive gambling is to limit one’s access to gambling websites.
Gambling addiction treatment is similar to that for other addictions. Cognitive behavioral therapy, also known as CBT, helps people learn to manage their problems by breaking them down into smaller ones. Many problem gamblers also benefit from support groups and self-help guides. These resources can help those who suffer from gambling addiction become financially stable. Although there is no one-size-fits-all cure for gambling addiction, it can be treated.