Gambling has never been easier or more accessible. In fact, around four out of five adults in the United States have gambled at some point in their lives. All 50 states offer some form of legalized gambling, and it is possible to participate in such gambling from the comfort of your own home, as long as you have a computer and an Internet connection. The sad fact is that two million people in the U.S. are addicted to gambling. Similarly, about 20 million adults suffer from gambling addiction or other related problems.
Treatment for pathological gambling usually involves psychotherapy, step-based programs, self-help, peer-support and/or medications. The DSM-IV has no specific drug approved for pathological gambling, and there are several factors that influence the treatment decision. No single treatment is deemed more effective than another, and no medications have been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for this condition. However, some treatment options are more effective than others.
The most visible consequences of pathological gambling are financial losses and accumulating debt. It can completely devastate a financial portfolio in hours. In fact, some gamblers have lost their entire life savings in one gambling session. These consequences are particularly relevant to senior gamblers, as the rates of bankruptcy and debt are higher in pathological gamblers than in the general population. Many gamblers also use illegal financial strategies to fund their ongoing gambling, including borrowing money from loan sharks and using credit cards.
Signs of a problem
When your money is spent solely on gambling, it can become a serious issue. Gambling problems affect not only the individual but also their family members and friends. Financial insecurity, reduced income, and even loss of a job, home, or business are common symptoms of a gambling problem. Eventually, the debt can spiral out of control and you may find yourself bankrupt. Gambling addiction is also a problem for young people.
A person with a gambling problem may be borrowing money to finance their habit, or borrowing to pay off debts. They may even stop participating in hobbies or relationships they once enjoyed. Another warning sign is that your loved one is often absent for long periods of time. While signs of a problem with gambling may differ between adults and adolescents, some warning signs include irregular work schedules, excessive debt, and a decline in self-esteem.
There are several different treatment options for gambling addiction. Gambling addiction is a form of impulse control disorder, similar to alcohol or drug addiction. The DSM-5 defines it as persistent and problematic gambling behavior that involves four or more specific actions in a 12-month period. Gamblers often turn to gambling as a way to soothe uncontrollable emotions and unwind. However, if you or someone you love is suffering from a gambling addiction, treatment may be in order.
If you’re looking for a residential rehab facility, look for one that is geared towards the particular needs of those suffering from gambling addiction. A day treatment program will consist of a few full or half-day sessions that will give you the support and time to get back on track. You’ll also want to check out outpatient gambling treatment, which offers one-on-one sessions or online therapy to learn how to better manage your gambling behaviors. Psychotherapy may also be necessary if you’re suffering from dual diagnosis. In these cases, a visit to a consulting psychiatrist is required, which is usually chargeable.