Gambling is risking something of value (such as money or property) on an event that is determined at least in part by chance. A person hopes to gain something of value in exchange for the risk, or “bet.” People who gamble often do so because they enjoy the thrill and excitement of making a bet and potentially winning. However, a gambling addiction can be dangerous and can lead to financial problems. In some cases, it can also damage relationships and cause emotional distress.
There are several different types of psychotherapy, or talk therapy, that can help people overcome a gambling addiction. One type, called cognitive behavioral therapy, involves changing the way you think and act to reduce your urges to gamble. Another technique, known as psychodynamic therapy, looks at how unconscious processes may influence your behavior. Finally, group therapy—which is a form of psychotherapy in which you meet with other people who have similar issues—can provide motivation and moral support to help you stay on track.
Although most people have gambled at some point in their lives, it’s important to recognize the difference between healthy gambling and an addiction. Healthy gambling usually takes place with friends and is a form of entertainment, not an attempt to make money. However, if you’re struggling with a gambling addiction, it can be hard to admit that you have a problem. You may downplay or deny your gambling problem, and you might lie to family members about how much time and money you spend on the activity. You may even try to justify your gambling by claiming that it’s a way to relieve stress or boredom.
Many studies have linked gambling to impulsivity, and research suggests that a lack of impulse control is an important precondition for a person to develop a gambling disorder. The relationship between impulsivity and gambling is complex, however. For example, the association between impulsivity and gambling can be due to both genetic and environmental factors. In addition, some researchers have found that sensation-seeking and arousal are also related to gambling.
A person can find ways to control their impulsivity by developing healthier habits and finding new ways to feel satisfied. For example, they can replace gambling activities with hobbies such as reading or exercising, and they can limit their access to credit cards and online betting sites. They can also seek out social support, seek help from a professional, and try to overcome any coexisting mental health conditions that may contribute to their gambling behaviors.
Although the U.S. Food and Drug Administration doesn’t approve any medications to treat gambling disorder, there are several types of psychotherapy that can help. These techniques include psychodynamic therapy, which examines how unconscious processes affect your behavior; group therapy, in which you describe and discuss your problems with other people who have similar issues; and family therapy. You can also join a peer support group such as Gamblers Anonymous, which is modeled after Alcoholics Anonymous.