Recovering From Gambling Disorder

Gambling involves placing something of value on an uncertain event with the hope of winning. It ranges from buying a lottery ticket to betting big sums of money in a casino. While gambling may be enjoyable for some people, for others it is a dangerous addiction that can lead to legal problems, family conflict and even suicide. It is also a source of great stress for those around the gambler, especially spouses and children.

Getting help is the first step in recovering from gambling addiction. The treatment options vary, but many types of therapy can be helpful. Family and individual counseling can help you understand the problem and find healthy ways to cope. Group therapy can help you develop coping skills and share your experiences with other people who are struggling with the same issues. Cognitive behavioral therapy can help you change your thinking patterns and learn new coping strategies.

The brain chemical dopamine is released when you win or lose, which can make you feel addicted to gambling. This makes it hard to stop, as you will always want that next win. This is why you need to set limits on how much you are willing to wager, as well as limit how often you gamble.

People with gambling disorder are impulsive and have difficulty controlling their emotions. They often use gambling as a way to relieve boredom or loneliness. They may become secretive about their gambling habits and lie to their friends and family. They may also be influenced by their culture, as some communities view gambling as a socially acceptable pastime. This can make it difficult to recognize a gambling problem and seek treatment.

Research shows that some people are genetically predisposed to thrill-seeking behaviour and impulsivity. This can affect how the brain processes reward information, controls impulses and weighs risk. Certain illnesses such as depression and anxiety can also cause a person to gamble excessively.

Understanding the risk factors for gambling disorder can help you prevent the onset of this addictive behavior. It is important to know that there are healthy ways to deal with unpleasant feelings, such as exercising, spending time with friends who don’t gamble and practicing relaxation techniques. You should also avoid using credit cards, have someone else manage your finances and close online betting accounts.

You may find it easier to control your gambling if you only gamble with cash. It is also a good idea to start with a fixed amount of money you are prepared to lose and never chase your losses, as this is a known as the “gambling fallacy” and can cause a vicious cycle of gambling and increasing bets.

It is important to understand that the underlying causes of gambling disorders are complex and can include genetic or psychological conditions. Over the years, our understanding of compulsive gambling has evolved. For example, the DSM-IV, which was used to diagnose mental health disorders until 2013, included 10 warning signs of pathological gambling. However, the current edition of the DSM, called DSM-5, has eliminated one of these warning signs (criminal behavior).