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Gambling Addiction

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Gambling is a fun, harmless pastime for some people but it can quickly turn into an unhealthy obsession with serious consequences. A gambling problem can strain relationships, interfere with work and lead to financial disaster. It can even make people do things they never thought possible, like stealing money to gamble. In the past, the psychiatric community has generally regarded pathological gambling as more of a compulsion than an addiction, and therefore placed it in the impulse control disorders category alongside kleptomania, pyromania and trichotillomania. But in May this year, the American Psychiatric Association moved it to the addictions section of its Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM).

Gamblers risk money or possessions for the chance of winning. This can be as simple as buying a lottery ticket or as complex as placing a bet on a sporting event. While gambling is often associated with casinos, it can also take place on the internet and on television.

People can be motivated to gamble by the desire to win money or to relieve boredom. But there are healthier ways to do these things, such as exercising, spending time with friends who don’t gamble, or using relaxation techniques. Gambling can be an expensive pastime that can easily drain your bank account. It is important to budget how much you will gamble and stick to these limits. If you have a gambling addiction, it is important to seek help as soon as possible.

One of the most serious problems with gambling is that it can be difficult to recognise a problem and to admit it to others. This can lead to people lying about how much they are gambling or hiding their gambling activity altogether. It can also lead to a false sense of security in terms of knowing how to deal with the problem. This is because it can be a hard habit to break and many people find that they return to it when they think they are ‘cured’.

Those with gambling addictions can benefit from cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). This helps them understand their thoughts and beliefs around betting, which are usually irrational and exaggerated. CBT can teach them new coping strategies and provide a framework to address their gambling problem. It can also help them identify and cope with underlying mood disorders, which can trigger or be made worse by gambling. This is because depression, stress and substance abuse can all contribute to gambling problems. It is important for anyone with a gambling problem to be treated for any underlying mood disorders. This will improve their chances of recovering from a gambling addiction. Alternatively, they can seek help from their family doctor. They will be able to refer them to a psychologist or a gambling specialist. If they are unable to stop gambling on their own, they can access a treatment program for problem gambling at a residential or inpatient facility. This is where they will receive round-the-clock support and supervision.

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