Gambling is the act of placing something of value, usually money, on an uncertain event with the intention of winning additional money and/or material goods. It can take many forms including lottery tickets, scratch-off tickets, games of chance such as blackjack or poker, races and animal tracks, sports events, or any other event whose outcome is determined by a combination of chance and skill. While gambling is generally considered an enjoyable pastime for most people, it can also lead to addiction. Fortunately, there are several treatment options for gambling addiction.
In order to overcome an addiction to gambling, it is important to seek help from a licensed mental health professional. In addition to individual therapy, group support is also available for problem gamblers through the organization Gamblers Anonymous. This 12-step program, which is modeled after Alcoholics Anonymous, provides an opportunity for problem gamblers to learn from others who have successfully recovered from their addiction.
Various studies have shown that cognitive-behavioral therapy is the most effective treatment for gambling addiction. This type of therapy teaches gamblers to resist unwanted thoughts and habits. For example, problem gamblers are encouraged to confront irrational beliefs such as the belief that a string of losses or a near miss (two out of three cherries on a slot machine) signals an imminent win. Another effective treatment is family therapy. It can help gamblers recognize and avoid the negative effects of their addiction and repair damaged relationships.
Another important way to combat gambling addiction is to set limits and stick to them. In addition to limiting the amount of time you spend gambling, make it a rule not to gamble on credit and never borrow to finance your gambling activities. Also, try to find other activities to replace your gambling activities. This will keep you from relying on gambling as your primary source of entertainment and will prevent you from making poor financial decisions that may result in large losses.
It is also helpful to find a good therapist who has experience treating compulsive gambling. In addition to individual therapy, family and marriage counseling can be very beneficial. Family therapy can also help you work through the specific problems created by your loved one’s gambling addiction and create a solid foundation for resolving those issues.
Finally, it is important to strengthen your support network. This can be done by reaching out to friends and family, joining a book club or sports team, enrolling in an education class, or volunteering for a cause. It is also beneficial to join a peer support group such as Gamblers Anonymous, which is based on the 12-step model of Alcoholics Anonymous.