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How to Cope With a Gambling Addiction

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Gambling involves staking something of value on an uncertain event in the hope of winning something else of value. It ranges from the purchase of lottery tickets and casual sports betting to professional casino gambling where high stakes are made in the pursuit of big profits. The risk of gambling addiction can be very real, and can impact all types of people from all socioeconomic backgrounds.

While no one form of gambling is more addictive than another, there are certain warning signs that can indicate a gambling problem. These include: a failure to meet family or work responsibilities, lying to cover up financial losses, chasing your losses (trying to win back your money), and a preoccupation with gambling. Often the gambling addiction becomes more serious over time, as debts accumulate and credit card companies begin to freeze accounts. People suffering from gambling addiction can also become desperate, leading them to seek payday loans or even rob banks to fund their habit.

If you suspect a loved one has a gambling addiction, there are steps you can take to help them break the cycle. Helping your loved one regain control of their life is the best way to restore trust and rebuild healthy relationships, so you should always be supportive and encourage them to seek treatment.

It can be difficult to cope with a loved one’s gambling addiction, as their behavior can make you feel like they no longer care about you. This can cause feelings of anger and resentment and can have long term effects on your relationships. Often, you may feel mistreated by your loved one, especially if they lie to you about their spending habits or avoid attending events because of their gambling activities.

In addition to helping your loved one get help, it’s important to find support for yourself. You can strengthen your own network by reaching out to colleagues and classmates, joining a book club or sports team, or enrolling in an education class. You can also attend psychotherapy sessions with a mental health professional, such as cognitive behavioral therapy, which helps you learn to challenge irrational thoughts and beliefs. Psychodynamic therapy is also an option, which examines how unconscious processes influence your behavior.

The most effective treatment options for gambling disorder involve professional intervention, including therapy and peer support groups. Peer support groups can include a 12-step program modeled after Alcoholics Anonymous, in which participants find a “sponsor” who has experience with gambling recovery and can provide guidance. Other therapy options for gambling addiction include family therapy and marriage, career, and credit counseling.