What You Need To Know About Addiction To Gambling

Gambling addiction is an urge to gamble continuously despite negative consequences and no desire to stop. Each year millions of people are affected by problem gambling. This situation is classified as a mental health problem. It is characterized by a fixation on gambling and compulsive behavior focused on the high you get by winning. Emotional and behavioral problems like stress, anxiety, panic attacks, depression, drug and alcohol addiction and other issues often go hand in hand with gambling addiction and require dual diagnosis treatment help.

While most people enjoy casino gambling, sports betting, lottery and bingo playing for the fun and excitement it provides, others may experience gambling as an addictive and distractive habit. Statistics show that while 85% of the adult population in the U.S.A. enjoys some type of gambling every year, between 2 and 3 percent will develop a gambling problem, and 1 percent of them are diagnosed as pathological gamblers. These represent millions of people from all social-economic back grounds. Of these millions of people, about 25 percent of them are female. Most women tend to be addicted to lottery tickets, slots, bingo and keno. Most men are addicted to table card games, craps, roulette and betting on horse races.

People who are compulsive gamblers have an uncontrollable urge to gamble despite the destructive effect of gambling on the gamblers life, and despite feelings of guilt and remorse. Problem gambling tends to have a negative effect on the gamblers financial state, relationships, and daily life. Severe cases of problem gambling can be defined as pathological gambling. Any gambler can develop a gambling problem regardless of the type of gambling. Researches show that slot machines found in bars and convenience stores are the most addictive type of gambling activity.

How do you know if you are a compulsive gambler? In order to be diagnosed an individual must have at least four of the following symptoms in a twelve month period:
• Needs to gamble with increasing amounts of money in order to achieve the desired excitement

• Is restless of irritable when attempting to cut down or stop gambling

• Has made repeated unsuccessful efforts to control, cut back, or stop gambling

• Is often preoccupied with gambling (e.g., having persistent thoughts of reliving past gambling experiences, handicapping or planning the next venture, thinking of ways to get money with which to gamble)

• Often gambles when feeling distressed (e.g., helpless, guilty, anxious, depressed

• After losing money gambling, often returns another day to get even (“chasing one’s losses”)

• Lies to conceal the extent of involvement with gambling

• Has jeopardized or lost a significant relationship. Job, education or career opportunity because of gambling

• Relies on others to provide money to relieve desperate financial situations caused by gambling

How can I treat gambling addiction? Here are several ways:

• Group therapy: Gamblers anonymous offers a twelve step self-help program similar to the one offered to alcohol addicts in Alcoholic Anonymous. Group therapy also offers gambling addicts advice and support from professional counselors and other gambling addicts in different phases of their recovery process. Gambler Anonymous centers are available in more than 1200 locations statewide. (http://www.gamblersanonymous.org/ga/)

• Individual Therapy: Cognitive or behavior therapy can help gambling addicts to identify their unaware thinking and acting patterns, which led them to gamble compulsively, and to replace them with controllable and healthier ways of thinking.

• Psychiatric Medication: It has been recently proven that antidepressant medications from the family of SSRIs, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors can be effective in treating gambling addiction.

• Peer Support: A growing method of treatment is peer support. With the advancement of online gambling, many gamblers experiencing issues use various online peer-support groups to aid their recovery. This protects their anonymity while allowing them to attempt recovery on their own, often without having to disclose their issues to loved ones.

You need to be ready to seek help to end your gambling addiction. You need to find a treatment program that can change your life so you can lead a capable, responsible and fulfilled life.
References:
CDC.gov
Wikipedia – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Problem_gambling

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