Dealing With Gambling Disorders


Gambling is when people risk something of value (money or possessions) on an event that has an element of randomness and/or chance. It can be done for fun, for social reasons or for financial gain, and may involve a range of activities including games of chance such as scratch cards, fruit machines or casino games; betting on sports events, horse races and football accumulators; lottery tickets; and card games like poker and blackjack. There are also forms of gambling that require skill, such as those in which players use knowledge and strategies to improve their chances of winning.

While gambling can be a fun and enjoyable activity for some people, it can become problematic for others. It can cause problems in their personal and professional lives, harm their health and relationships, affect their work or study, get them into debt and even lead to homelessness. It can also have a negative impact on their family members and friends, with research suggesting that more than 400 suicides are linked to problem gambling each year in the UK.

It’s important to recognise that gambling disorders are real and that it is possible to overcome them. Counselling can help individuals to understand the nature of their problem and think through options for dealing with it. It can also help them solve problems, such as finding alternative ways to spend their time and address any other underlying issues that might be contributing to their gambling behaviours. There are no FDA-approved medications to treat gambling disorders, but counselling can be used in combination with other treatments such as cognitive behavioral therapy, psychodynamic or group therapies, and psychoeducational programmes.

For some, overcoming a gambling addiction will involve the support of family and friends. Others will need a more structured approach, such as inpatient or residential treatment and rehabilitation programs. These are often aimed at those with more severe gambling disorders who are unable to control their behavior without round-the-clock support.

If someone you know has a gambling disorder, help them to seek treatment. Suggest that they talk to their GP, attend a support group for gamblers, or contact a charity such as GamCare. You could also consider family therapy or other types of counseling that can help a person with gambling problems, such as career or credit counseling. It can be overwhelming coping with a loved one’s gambling addiction, but it’s important to remember that many families have struggled with this issue in the past. It’s also important to be aware of the signs and symptoms so that you can act quickly if you see any of them.