How to Cope With Gambling Disorders

Gambling involves placing something of value, usually money, on a random event in the hope of winning something else of value, such as a prize or recognition. It can include games of chance, such as poker, dice games and roulette, as well as bets on sports or other events with an element of skill, like betting on horse races. People may gamble in casinos, racetracks and other venues as well as online, at work or in their social circles.

Some people are more prone to gambling problems than others. Personality and family factors can influence the likelihood of developing a gambling disorder, as can mental health conditions such as depression or stress. A history of trauma and social inequality can also contribute to the development of gambling disorders. In addition, there are genetic predispositions to thrill-seeking behaviors and impulsivity.

It’s important to recognize when a loved one’s gambling has become unhealthy. Warning signs can include lying about or hiding their gambling activities and avoiding friends and family members who discuss the issue. Increasingly frequent or excessive gambling activity can cause problems in other areas of life, such as relationships, work and school performance and finances.

While there are no medications approved by the Food and Drug Administration to treat gambling disorders, several types of therapy can help. These therapies, called psychotherapy, involve talking to a licensed mental health professional, such as a psychologist or clinical social worker. They can teach you healthy ways to manage your emotions and change your thinking patterns. They can also offer support and advice on coping with financial issues, relationships and family issues.