In today’s society, gambling has become more widespread and acceptable than ever before. Four out of five Americans have gambled at some point in their lives, and every state has legalized gambling in some form. Today, you can gamble from your home with a phone or Internet connection, making it easier than ever to lose money. Unfortunately, around two million people in the U.S. are addicted to gambling, and as many as 20 million are affected by gambling-related problems.
Gambling is a form of entertainment that involves placing a valuable item at risk in hopes of gaining a greater value in return. Many individuals develop problem gambling when it starts to interfere with major areas of their lives, including employment, finances, relationships, and family. People with problem gambling often feel unable to control their impulses and can suffer financial ruin, legal problems, and even loss of family or career. Problem gambling can even lead to suicide.
People affected by problem gambling may not know it, but their friends, family members, and colleagues are impacted as well. These people have a powerful desire to win money at gambling, and the compulsion to win can have devastating effects on them and their loved ones. In New Mexico, tribal casinos have voluntarily invested time and resources in promoting problem gambling awareness and help lines. These organizations aim to help individuals stop the compulsion to gamble and to make their lives better.
Signs of problem gambling
Problem gambling is an addiction. The urge to gamble is so strong that it affects an individual’s entire life. Oftentimes, problem gamblers avoid the negative consequences of their actions and continue to gamble, despite the negative effects. The primary signs of problem gambling are preoccupation with gambling and loss of control over it. A problem gambler often hides evidence of their gambling, feels guilty about it, or skips family activities when they’re gambling. The severity of a problem gambler’s addiction increases as it reaches catastrophic levels.
The most alarming sign of problem gambling is an increase in illegal activities. A person can begin to commit crimes to fund their gambling addiction, including robbery to get money, or even kill someone to satisfy their craving. Even the most basic activities become difficult to perform when one is so obsessed with gambling. If you notice these signs in a loved one, it’s time to seek help. If you’re worried about a loved one’s gambling habits, talk to your spouse or a trusted friend.
Treatments for problem gambling
Research on treatment for problem gambling has been burgeoning for more than a decade, as a small percentage of the population suffer from the condition. In this article, we review psychosocial treatments for problem gambling based on evidence from controlled trials. Using Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews, we identified 21 randomized controlled trials (RCTs). Eleven of these studies examined multi-session in-person therapy, cognitive therapies, and motivational interventions. Ten RCTs evaluated the use of workbooks containing CB exercises.
Behavioral therapy seeks to reverse the learned associations between the gambling-related urges and certain events. Among these interventions, exposure therapy aims to eliminate gambling-related urges from actual experiences, such as winning or losing. Imaginal desensitization (ID), on the other hand, intentionally evokes gambling-related urges through imagery and provides immediate cognitive restructuring assistance. However, most studies involving behavioral therapy use weak experimental designs and are difficult to interpret causal attributions.