Lithium and other mood-stabilizing medications have been found to be effective as antidepressants to treat anxiety or mood disorders of a gambler. Psychotherapy is another focus for this addiction and is similar to that of depression or substance abuse – a person’s thoughts and behavior. Cognitive behavior therapy might help define the reasons for the gambling addiction and confronts the gambler’s defenses and stop gambling.
Emergency intervention can be used if the pathological gambler is suicidal. For friends and family members, a call to 911 could be made or by just taking the gambler to a hospital emergency room. There are two national self-help groups that deal specifically with gambling addiction.
Gamblers Anonymous is an abstinence-based, 12-step program similar to Alcoholics Anonymous or anyone with a gambling problem can call the National Council on Problem Gambling’s toll-free number. Research suggests that in some cases, compulsive gamblers can recover on their own without treatment.
Pathological Gambling Traits
Pathological gambling is often undiagnosed or overlooked and often takes the intervention of friends or family members to encourage a person with a gambling addiction to seek help. The first step in diagnosing a gambling addiction is to visit a psychiatrist for an in depth mental health evaluation. This process can help identify the magnitude of the gambling behavior.
A patient must meet at least five or more of the following criteria from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders: Preoccupation with gambling, higher amounts of money is needed to achieve desired excitement, gambling continues despite repeated efforts to control behavior, Restless or irritable when trying to refrain from gambling, Uses gambling as a way to be in a good mood and gambles to recoup losses.
They can also lie to family members and to their therapist to conceal gambling behavior. This person will also steals money in order to continue gambling while they put relationships and their job in danger.