While most people will have placed some sort of a bet in their lifetime, only a small number of individuals develop gambling disorder. According to the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5), pathological gambling is defined as “persistent and recurrent maladaptive patterns of gambling behavior that result in significant distress or impairment.”
Gambling can occur in any setting where money or other valuable items are staked on an event whose outcome is uncertain. It can be seen at casinos, racetracks, video games and even online. Regardless of the venue, there are four main reasons why people gamble:
For financial reasons – to win money. This may be because they enjoy the idea of what they would do with a large jackpot, or because they have an urge to ‘try their luck’ and see how far they can go. For coping reasons – to forget their worries, for example. They may also do it to feel more self-confident or as a way of helping them sleep. For entertainment purposes – they like the feeling of it, or because it makes them feel high.
There are several ways to help someone with a gambling problem. Firstly, it’s important for them to realise they have a problem and accept that they need help. This can be difficult, especially if they have lost a lot of money or their relationship with their family has been strained as a result of their behaviour.
Another thing to do is to try and get them to think about the consequences of their gambling. This can be helpful in encouraging them to change their behaviour and make better choices. It’s also a good idea to get them to set limits on their spending. For example, only using disposable income and not money they need to pay bills or rent. It’s also a good idea for them to limit the time they spend gambling. This can be done by setting an alarm for themselves or having a friend remind them when they’re due to stop.
Psychotherapy can be a useful tool for dealing with a gambling addiction. It can be particularly helpful to engage in psychodynamic therapy, which aims to increase an individual’s awareness of unconscious processes that affect their behaviour. Other types of psychotherapy that are useful for those with a gambling disorder include group therapy and family therapy.
The biggest thing is getting them to accept that they have a problem, but it’s not impossible. There are many support groups available that can help them break their addiction and start to rebuild their lives. In addition, if their relationship with their family has been strained, there are many different types of family therapy that can be used to address the specific issues. If finances have been compromised, there are credit counselling services available to help with that too.