For many people, gambling does not become a problem until its adverse effects start to manifest themselves in one’s finances as well as relationships. Once the damage becomes apparent, the need to find a cure takes over.
Yes, compulsive gambling is now a major health concern and, just as all other health issues, it has corresponding treatments. However, do not expect to have an easy time of going about the treatment for compulsive gambling.
The challenge in treating this “affliction” lies within the compulsive gambler himself. The psychological nature of this problem means that the compulsive gambler must first admit to himself and everyone around that he does have a problem, and this should be followed up with an acknowledgement that he needs help.
There are three approaches taken to treat compulsive gambling and allow the person to regain control of his life.
- Medications. Compulsive gamblers are prone to unstable mood swings and bouts of depression. What you originally thought as a harmless form of obsessive compulsive disorder or a case of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder could actually be signs of a bigger problem, which is compulsive gambling. If you rein in these mood swings and depressive bouts, you may be able to focus on the actual, bigger problem at hand. The reprieve you need, albeit momentarily, can be obtained from mood stabilizers, antidepressants and several types of narcotic antagonists. Just make sure you get a physician’s prescription or opinion before taking anything.
- Psychological Treatments. Psychotherapy is highly encouraged for those who are having problems with compulsive gambling. The two most common forms : behavior therapy, where the compulsive gambler will be taught how to curb their gambling urges when they strike; and cognitive behavioral therapy, where positive reinforcement is encouraged. The patient would be supplanting his negative and irrational beliefs with healthier and more sensible ones.
- Collaborative treatments. Joining self-help groups are very effective forms of therapy. Patients meeting kindred spirits will realize that they are not alone in their plight, and they can pull on the desire of others to be cured of their problem. Gamblers Anonymous is merely one of the many self-help groups that exist to aid in the treatment of compulsive gambling.
When you have a problem, accept it. When you need help, ask for it. That is the best way to a successful treatment.