By Lauren Hernandez
Gambling can be a fun occasional activity to do with friends or family. However, some individuals can develop a serious addiction known as Gambling Disorder. Through frequent compulsive, habitual impulses, a person who is unable to resist gambling can have extreme negative consequences throughout their life which may affect relationships, finances, and even be a stepping stone towards engaging in criminal behavior. Typically a person addicted to gambling will develop this pattern of behavior during adolescence or young adulthood. Gambling Disorder may begin with occasional gambling and develop into habitual, problematic gambling episodes. An increase in gambling is associated with stress, depression, and substance use or abstinence. Patterns of problematic gambling may also include periods of long term remission.
According to the DSM-5 the symptoms of Gambling Disorder include:
- Persistent and recurrent problematic gambling behavior leading to clinically significant impairment or distress, as indicated by the individual exhibiting four (or more) of the following in a 12-month period:
- Needs to gamble with increasing amounts of money to achieve the desired excitement.
- Is restless or irritable when attempting to cut down or stop gambling.
- Has made repeated unsuccessful efforts to control, cut back, or stop gambling.
- Is often preoccupied with gambling (e.g., having persistent thoughts of reliving past gambling experiences, handicapping or planning the next venture, thinking of ways to get money with which to gamble).
- Often gambles when feeling distressed (e.g., helpless, guilty, anxious, depressed).
- After losing money gambling, often returns another day to get even (“chasing” one’s losses).
- Lies to conceal the extent of involvement with gambling.
- Has jeopardized or lost a significant relationship, job, or educational or career opportunity because of gambling.
- Relies on others to provide money to relieve desperate financial situations caused by gambling.
- The gambling behavior is not better explained by a manic episode.
The treatment for Gambling Disorder is an eclectic approach. It is important to seek treatment early, before the individual poses any extreme risks to themselves or friends and family. Prevention may not always be possible; however limiting exposure to casinos, scratch off tickets, or other triggers is helpful. Compulsive gambling is best treated through psychotherapy in the form of therapy or support groups. In addition to psychotherapy, medications such as antidepressants or mood stabilizers are extremely helpful. If you or someone you know is struggling with Gambling Disorder or has problematic gambling habits, it is important to reach out to a mental health practitioner such as a psychologist or psychiatric nurse practitioner.
If you or someone you know who may have Gambling Disorder, please contact our psychotherapy offices in New York or New Jersey to talk to one of our licensed professional psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, or psychotherapists at Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy. Contact our Paramus, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices respectively, at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920 to set up an appointment. For more information, please visit http://www.counselingpsychotherapynjny.com/