How to Help Someone With a Gambling Addiction

Gambling involves placing a bet on something of value (such as money or property) with the conscious risk of loss, hope of gain, and/or intent to deceive or defraud. It is one of the most common forms of recreation, but can also cause significant problems for individuals and society as a whole. Despite its popularity, gambling can have negative social and psychological effects, including a decrease in interpersonal relationships, strained family dynamics, heightened depression and anxiety, impaired work or school performance, increased substance abuse, serious debt, and even homelessness.

While most people who gamble do so for fun, a small number of individuals become addicted to gambling and develop problem gambling. Problem gambling is defined in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (Fifth Edition) as an ongoing pattern of gambling activity that causes significant distress or impairment.

Historically, there have been many causes of gambling addiction and problems. For example, the industrial revolution shifted our societies’ emphasis from personal values and relationships to material wealth, and many individuals became preoccupied with accumulating wealth through gambling. This trend was accelerated by the Great Depression, which created a sense of urgency for many people to accumulate wealth and avoid financial ruin.

Some people are more likely to develop a gambling addiction than others. Men are more susceptible to developing a gambling problem than women, and younger people are more at risk of becoming addicted to gambling than older people. In addition, people with mood disorders such as depression or anxiety are more at risk of developing a gambling addiction.

There are several ways to help someone with a gambling addiction. These include therapy, education and support groups. Therapy can help the person with a gambling addiction understand their problem and learn to manage it. It can also teach them healthier coping skills. Support groups can be a lifeline for someone struggling with gambling addiction and help them find other ways to cope with their problems. Some of these groups are based on 12-step recovery programs, such as Alcoholics Anonymous.

Another way to help someone with a gambling addiction is by encouraging them to seek treatment. A therapist can recommend local referral resources for certified gambling counselors and intensive treatment programs. In addition, a therapist can assist the individual with managing their finances, taking control of their family’s budget, and reviewing bank and credit card statements. Lastly, family therapy and marriage, career, and credit counseling can help the individual work through the issues that are contributing to their problem gambling. If the person is unable to control their gambling habits, they may need to consider residential or inpatient treatment programs. These are programs that provide round-the-clock care and supervision and are designed for people who are unable to stop gambling without professional help. These programs are usually funded by state or local governments. They can also be privately paid for by insurance or the individual. The goal of these programs is to reduce gambling-related harms and prevent relapse.