When someone is addicted to gambling, the effects on their life can be profound. The same affects are felt by those who suffer from compulsive gambling binges and regular gambling. The same emotional consequences are felt in other areas of a person’s life as well. However, therapy can help decrease the urge to gamble. Moreover, cognitive behavioural therapy can help change the way a person thinks about gambling. Several psychological and social benefits can be expected from therapy.
Compulsive gambling is a mental disorder
A person with compulsive gambling often has depression, which can be exacerbated by the addiction to money. This disorder negatively affects every aspect of a person’s life, from physical health to sleep. Compulsive gambling is often comorbid with substance abuse or mental disorders, including bipolar disorder and obsessive-compulsive disorder. Suicidal thoughts can also develop in a person suffering from this disorder.
In addition to seeking counseling from a mental health professional, a person suffering from compulsive gambling may also benefit from self-help groups such as Gamblers Anonymous. In addition to counseling, treatment may involve medication to control the urges to gamble. During treatment, compulsive gamblers may also undergo drug treatments for substance abuse and depression. In some cases, medications may be prescribed to treat other mental disorders, including bipolar disorder.
It is similar to substance abuse
Although a rumor only 10 years ago, problem gambling is a mental disorder, and researchers now acknowledge that it can be an actual addiction in some people. Problem gamblers tend to lie to friends and family members, bet larger amounts of money, and can’t stop once they get hooked. Researchers also say that gambling is similar to substance abuse in several ways, such as the way it can damage your relationships.
Both substance abuse and gambling have severe financial consequences, and problem gamblers are more likely to make attempts at suicide than those without a gambling problem. Problem gamblers also experience the same brain areas as those affected by substance abuse, and have similar brain chemicals like GABA. A gambling problem may even require the assistance of friends, family, and financial institutions. And both are associated with high costs such as overdraft fees and legal fees.
It can be treated
The good news is that problem gambling can be treated just as other addictive behaviors can be. Treatment options for problem gambling often include talking therapy and 12 Step Programs. In addition to counseling, gambling addiction may be treated with medications. Some of these medications have already been approved by the Food and Drug Administration for treatment of other addictions. A family physician can recommend the right treatment option for a problem gambler. In addition to therapy, self-help guides and support groups may be helpful.
The pathological gambling literature includes various treatment methods, including psychodynamic, cognitive-behavioral, and 12-step methods. Psychodynamic methods have not been tested in controlled trials. Pharmacotherapies and 12-step methods require replications with larger samples to determine their efficacy. Although multimodal approaches have been used successfully, their effectiveness has not been well studied. The majority of outcome studies have focused on behavioral and cognitive methods. These methods are known to be effective in reducing problem gambling.