Types of Therapy for Gambling Disorders


Gambling is an activity in which a person bets something of value on a random event. This can be a game of chance, like playing poker, bingo, or a lottery, or it can be an actual investment. In either case, the goal is to win something that is of value.

Gambling is a popular leisure activity in many areas of the world. However, it can also have a negative impact on a person’s life. When a person experiences gambling problems, he or she may experience depression, anxiety, and suicidal ideation. If a person is experiencing these issues, it may be a good idea to seek professional help. There are several types of therapy used to treat gambling disorders.

Cognitive behavioral therapy is one type of therapy. A gambling addict might be preoccupied with a dream of winning a jackpot. Having a better understanding of why a person gambles can help him or her to make the necessary changes to avoid further gambling behavior.

Another type of therapy is family therapy. Family members or friends can play a crucial role in a person’s recovery from gambling problems. Several organizations offer counselling to people and their families who are affected by gambling. These services are available free of charge and are confidential.

Research into gambling disorder has begun to expand in recent years. More and more primary care settings are evaluating patients for addiction. Studies have shown that some adolescents and young adults show signs of pathological gambling. They may be absent from work to engage in gambling activities, spend money they do not have, or lie to their spouse about their gambling.

The symptoms of gambling disorder can begin as early as adolescence and continue into adulthood. Compulsive gambling is more common in men than women, but it can occur in both genders. Many jurisdictions prohibit gambling or enforce strict age limits. It is estimated that the amount of money wagered in the United States is nearly $10 trillion annually.

Although there are no FDA-approved medications for treating gambling disorders, medications may be used to treat co-occurring conditions, such as depression and anxiety. Several forms of therapy are used to treat these disorders, including cognitive behavioral therapy, family therapy, and psychodynamic therapy.

While research has not been able to determine the risk factors involved in the onset of gambling disorders, it is believed that social inequality may play a role. Pathological gambling is more likely to occur amongst middle-aged and older adults, and it is thought that this disorder is influenced by family and friend influences.

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), published by the American Psychiatric Association, lists Gambling Disorder as one of the addictive behaviors that should be considered. Some clinicians use DSM-IV-TR criteria to diagnose problem gambling. Typically, a patient will have to exhibit signs of a gambling disorder for at least six months before a diagnosis can be made.

The National Institute on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse (NIDA) has awarded grants to the National Center for Responsible Gaming to explore the health effects of gambling. Additionally, the National Alliance for Research on Schizophrenia and Depression has supported research into the issue.