From afar gambling may seem like an innocent bet placed on a favourite team, or perhaps a bit of fun at the casino, but the increased level of problem gambling around the world is leaving a line of casualties in its wake. With wider accessibility and connectivity online, it is easy to place a bet with money you don’t have at the simple click of a button. Gambling addiction is a serious problem, not to be overlooked. It causes rupture between families, serious debt, and in severe cases even suicide. The good news is that treatment for gambling addiction is possible. It is important to speak to professionals who can assess the situation and make appropriate treatment recommendations for you or your loved one who may be suffering from a gambling addiction.
What is a Gambling Addiction?
Gambling addiction is classified as a behavioural or process addiction. An individual is typically addicted to a behaviour rather than a substance, although many people suffering from process addictions might also struggle with substance use disorder or alcoholism. In fact, substance use and gambling are so similar that the most recent edition of the DSM-V reclassified gambling from an ‘impulse control disorder’ to a ‘substance use and addictive disorders’ classification.
Much like alcohol or drug dependence, gambling addiction triggers the same common core cerebral, neural, inherited, and developmental characteristics that are found in substance use addiction. A chronic gambler will be addicted to the rush that is experienced by placing a bet, whether they win or lose. As one can imagine, this can lead a person into serious financial debt as one has to gamble more and more in order to either break even or feel more of a rush at ‘beating the odds’.
How Does a Gambling Addiction Start?
Gambling has always been considered a vice rather than a chronic disease. But this is a misunderstanding. The feeling of euphoria connected to placing a bet can be the trigger to someone’s gambling addiction. Whilst not everyone will suffer from a gambling addiction who gambles, similar to drugs and alcohol, an individual might be more prone to addiction. The more extreme the source of pleasure is, the stronger the pleasure experienced by the person, the more an individual may seek this out.
The problem occurs when a particular source of intense pleasure, for example, gambling, is engaged repeatedly. The brain quickly learns that this is a pleasurable experience and will want more of it. This can end dramatically as gambling creeps up the list of an individual’s priorities, often to the same level as basic survival necessities. Over time, gambling can be prioritised even further, until it becomes more important to the person than eating or drinking.
Effects of Gambling Addiction
Compulsive gambling can lead to a variety of problems that are likely to accumulate over time. Unfortunately, one of the reasons gambling addiction can be so destructive is because the gambler sees placing a bet in order to get out of debt, as their only route out of the problems that gambling has caused in the first place; a vicious cycle ensues leading the individual to experience severe negative consequences. Other effects of gambling addiction include:
- Interpersonal relationship issues
- Financial issues
- Legal problems
- Suicidal ideation and even suicide
Signs of Gambling Addiction
Spotting the signs of someone who is struggling with a gambling addiction can be difficult. Addiction is steeped in deception and secrecy. The first sign is typically deceptive behaviour to cover up their habit. They can also omit secrecy as they attempt to hide the financial distress caused by their addiction. An individual suffering from gambling addiction may ask friends and family for money, take out loans at the bank, commit crimes like fraud or theft or begin selling their personal belongings in order to fund their habit. Other signs to look out for include:
- Placing more bets in order to ‘chase the losses’, trying to get even
- Preoccupation with gambling
- Preoccupation with financial problems
- Lying about what they have been doing or where they have been
- Deceptive, secretive, manipulative behaviour
- Erratic behaviour
- Familial and/or relationship issues
- Neglect of responsibilities such as work, school, family life
- Possessing large amounts of cash, which then disappear
- Legal problems such as fraud, theft, or embezzlement
- Excessive time spent online
How is Gambling Addiction Treated?
Addiction treatment is available on an inpatient or outpatient basis. Your decision will ultimately be based upon your individual needs and circumstances. While residential rehab is considered to be the most effective form of treatment for codeine addiction, clinics like CATCH Recovery offer exceptional outpatient addiction treatment.
Effective treatment for any addiction consists of a medical detox where necessary. For behavioural addictions such as gambling, where no substances are involved an intensive form of psychological therapy is required.
Treating the psychological aspects of addiction will provide you with the tools you need to maintain long-term sobriety. Psychological dependence is the term used to describe the emotional and mental components of substance use disorder. This is usually characterised by strong cravings for a particular substance or behaviour and the inability to function without it.
CATCH Recovery uses evidence-based treatments such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), grief and trauma therapy, one-to-one counselling sessions, group therapy and online therapy. We also teach relaxation techniques such as yoga and meditation which can help with managing stressful situations such as the compulsion to engage in certain behaviours.
Whether it’s residential rehab or intensive outpatient therapy, finishing a programme can also feel daunting. You may feel overwhelmed without the structure and safety you’ve become accustomed to. With this in mind, we have created an exceptional aftercare programme designed to prevent relapse and help you deal with the stressors of everyday life.
Gambling Addiction Treatment at CATCH Recovery
If you’re concerned about the effects your gambling addiction is having on your health and wellbeing, get in touch with CATCH Recovery to find out how we can help you begin your journey to a life free from addiction.
You can call our admissions team for your free addiction assessment, and they will be able to advise you on the next steps.
Our clinic is based in South West London, which is accessible from anywhere in the UK. However, if you need additional support but don’t live in the South East of England, you may benefit from some of the outpatient services we offer. If you require residential rehab and are unable to travel to London, we also provide referrals to rehabs in other areas in the UK and Ireland.