Instances of gambling addictions have risen sharply over the last few years. In fact, in the United States alone, over 5 million people reported having a gambling addiction that required treatment.
Gambling addictions are classified as impulse-control disorders, types of progressive addictions that can negatively impact a person’s life physically, psychologically and socially. People who live with a gambling addiction may experience symptoms such as anxiety, distress, intestinal disorders, migraines and even depression.
How is a Gambling Addiction Diagnosed?
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition, states that for a person to be diagnosed with a gambling addiction, they must experience at least four of the following in the last 12 months:
- A desire to gamble with larger amounts of money to feel the same high.
- A feeling of restlessness or agitation when attempting to stop gambling.
- More than one unsuccessful attempt to stop or reduce gambling.
- Obsessive thinking about gambling.
- Gambling as a means to self-soothe.
- Lying to cover up gambling activities.
- Gambling even after a major loss.
- Experiencing social, relational, or work problems as a result of gambling.
- Relying on others to get money for gambling.
Individuals who have been officially diagnosed with a gambling problem are typically offered three types of treatments:
Antidepressants and mood stabilizers have been shown to be somewhat effective at reducing the symptoms of the addiction. Some antidepressants have even been shown to reduce the urge to gamble. While medications should never be used long-term, they can be beneficial short-term for those suffering from extreme symptoms.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) helps individuals reduce their urge to gamble by helping them to discover their own behavior and where these urges stem from. CBT works because it gets to the root of the problem and changes the way the individual feels and thinks about gambling.
Many individuals find it helpful to find a supportive addiction group, either online or in their local area.
Like other addictions, it will take time and effort to recover from a gambling addiction. But once you learn how to work through the addiction, you’ll come out the other end a person who feels happy and peaceful.
If you believe you or someone you know has a gambling addiction and would like to explore treatment options, please get in touch with me. I would be more than happy to discuss how I may help.