Gambling addiction is a complex issue that can have psychological, personal, physical and social consequences. People with this disorder have a strong urge to gamble, regardless of whether they win or lose money. Their gambling activity interferes with their normal daily functioning, such as work, school and relationships. Often, the more they gamble, the more they lose. They also may try to “chase” their losses, betting more and more in an attempt to win back lost funds. This behavior can lead to financial difficulties and a loss of self-respect and self-esteem.
People with this disorder may become withdrawn from their family and friends. They might avoid activities that do not involve gambling, such as exercising, spending time with friends who do not gamble and practicing relaxation techniques. They might even begin to miss work or school, as they become obsessed with their gambling behavior. Over time, this can cause job loss or academic setbacks. In some cases, they may start stealing to fund their gambling habit or cover their losses.
Treatment options for this condition include psychotherapy and medication. Psychotherapy can help people identify their triggers and learn healthy ways to cope with them. For example, they can learn to avoid situations and activities that encourage gambling by changing their routes home if their usual path takes them past casinos or canceling subscriptions to sports or entertainment channels that promote betting. They can also establish better money management skills, such as by limiting access to credit cards or leaving nonessential cash at home and avoiding online gambling.