The new DSM-5, Gabbard’s Treatment of Psychiatric Disorders, has placed gambling disorder into a new category for behavioral addictions. Compared to other disorders involving substance abuse, gambling is akin to alcoholism, smoking, and other forms of addictive behavior. Gambling disorder also has similar comorbidity, brain origin, and physiology to substance abuse. Treatment is available, but it is not a cure.
Problem gambling is a serious disorder that can affect an individual at any age and can also impact their family and workplace. It can also affect their children if they have an unhealthy relationship with gambling. The effects of problem gambling can range from poor eating habits to strained relationships and alienation. People who suffer from this disorder may also lie, steal, or even lose control of their finances. While the causes of problem gambling are not fully understood, some common symptoms include:
Among youth, problem gamblers report higher levels of anxiety and depression than their counterparts. They often engage in gambling as an escape from their problems and lack of involvement in school. Problem gamblers also report less engagement in school and are placed outside their peer groups. It is difficult to know if depression or anxiety is a factor in adolescent problem gambling, but it is important to remember that gambling is often an anti-social activity.
Depending on the severity of your problem, therapy may be the best way to deal with your addiction. Cognitive behavioral therapy, or CBT, is a proven method of treating addiction that focuses on challenging harmful beliefs. Other treatment options include support groups like NA and AA, which use a 12-step process to address a person’s triggers and harmful gambling thoughts. Psychotherapy can also be helpful for overcoming your compulsive gambling habits and restoring control of your life.
Gambling problems can have severe consequences, both financially and psychologically. The preoccupation with gambling may result in a lack of self-esteem, and a relationship with money can suffer. Unfortunately, most people with a gambling addiction often hide their problem and do not seek help until it’s too late. While many factors contribute to the development of a gambling disorder, genetics, and underactive reward centres in the brain can also play a role.