Cognitive-behavioural therapies have been shown to be effective for people with problem gambling. These treatments typically include counseling, self-help and peer-support groups, and sometimes medication. However, there is no one single treatment that is the most effective for addressing problem gambling. There is also no specific medication approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for pathological gambling.
Gambling is defined as “a form of entertainment in which a person risks money or other items to achieve greater value.” Certain populations are more vulnerable than others to developing problem gambling. They include adolescents, veterans, and aging adults.
Compulsive gambling is a serious condition that can affect anyone. It is usually difficult to control and requires help from a doctor. Treatment is available in the form of medication, therapy, and lifestyle changes. In some cases, compulsive gambling is a symptom of another disorder, such as bipolar disorder or depression. Treatment includes cognitive-behavioral therapy, which is aimed at changing harmful behaviors and false beliefs that may be causing compulsive gambling. During the therapy, patients learn coping skills to reduce their dependence on gambling.
Self-help groups are often a useful part of treatment. Your mental health provider can recommend groups, such as Gamblers Anonymous. For more serious cases, your provider may suggest a residential or outpatient treatment program. If you cannot afford these, you may also benefit from self-help treatments or structured Internet-based programs. Those seeking treatment may also need to seek treatment for other mental health or substance use issues, such as depression or an eating disorder.
Pathological gambling is an addictive behavior with a variety of adverse consequences. Gambling addictions can lead to drug use and theft, and can put a person under pressure from bookmakers or loan sharks. The resulting financial crisis can lead to a variety of negative consequences, including the potential risk of suicide. Up to 20% of people who suffer from pathological gambling may attempt suicide.
Researchers have found evidence of a link between pathological gambling and impaired response inhibition. Impairment of this system could exacerbate the automatic behaviors that underlie the addiction. Pathological gamblers were also less able to induce somatic states that are necessary for pondering the advantages and disadvantages of an uncertain decision.