Last updated: 11/14/2018
Author: Addictions.com Medical Review
Reading Time: 4 minutes
Gambling is often referred to as the “silent addiction” or the “silent killer” because the addiction often goes unnoticed for many years causing great financial and emotional harm before anyone realizes that it’s even a problem. Every gambler has unique needs when it comes to recovery from gambling addiction which is why gambling addiction treatment provides so many different means and methods of care to assist those who are suffering with the tremendous burden of gambling addiction on their shoulders.
It takes great strength and courage to seek help for gambling addiction and treatment may not be a walk in the park but it is effective and there is hope!
Recognizing the Need for Gambling Addiction Treatment
You may wonder if there’s really a need for treatment of whether or not your loved one’s gambling problem is really that bad. The fact is, determining whether a gambling problem really is a problem or not can be difficult, especially considering the fact that many gamblers will cover up the actual amount of money that they spend, hide the level of gambling that they really take part in and otherwise mask the problem or downplay the situation. The signs of gambling addiction are not always as easy to spot as we may wish. Here are a few ways that you can tell if there is a need for gambling addiction treatment, as noted by the US National Library of Medicine:
- Individual is defensive about his or her gambling activities
- Individual runs out of money or is secretive about money
- Borrowing to gamble
- Taking drastic measures in order to fund gambling
- Depression or altered mood when not gambling
- Increased happiness when gambling
- Suicidal thoughts
Self-proclaimed Abstinence from Gambling
One of the best methods of overcoming gambling addiction, and also the first to fail without treatment, is to self-proclaim your own abstinence from gambling. What this means is that the gambler will actually make the promise to him or herself not to gamble and will exclude him or herself from any activities that involve gambling. This is a necessity when it comes to overcoming gambling addiction but without proper treatment, this method of recovery often tends to fail. Here’s why:
- The gambler will begin to have cravings or urges to gamble and will often resort to gambling to control these feelings.
- The gambling will then lead to feelings of depression because the individual feels as if he or she has been defeated as a result of relapsing against their own promise to themselves not to gamble.
- These feelings, of depression and defeat, will usually lead to increased gambling and the ball just continues to roll downhill from there.
How Treatment Centers Can Help
People who are addicted to gambling have various reasons for their addiction. They may want to feel an adrenaline rush, be social with others who are gambling in a casino or similar environment, numb feelings or emotions, or solve money problems. Each person’s interest and reasons for gambling are typically based on their own individual lifestyle and unique desires. Some people gamble just because they are bored and others gamble to relax.
Gambling addiction treatment centers can help by providing the addict with insight into the reasons why they gamble. Once the individual understands what it is that triggers his or her gambling, they can begin to learn ways of changing their thoughts and behaviors in order to refrain from gambling. Many of the reasons for gambling such as social reasons or to overcome boredom can still be overcome through substitution behaviors such as exercise, talking with a friend, joining a social group or taking part in a hobby.
Treatment can help the addict to learn how to deal with gambling cravings in a healthy manner that continues to promote his or her abstinence. Instead of just making a promise to stay away from gambling all together, the individual will actually learn through counseling and therapy how to recognize the triggers that cause gambling, how to avoid those triggers and how to take part in other substitution behaviors that will fulfill their desire or perceived need to gamble.
Types of Gambling Addiction Treatment
Various methods of treatment for gambling addiction are found in both inpatient and outpatient settings. Most of the time, gambling addiction treatment will consist of some method of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). This method of treating problem gambling focuses on helping the addict to change unhealthy thought processes and behaviors into rational, healthy thought processes and behaviors. Gamblers learn how to effectively fight the urge to gamble, how to deal with the triggers that cause them to gamble and how to solve problems that have been caused by their addiction.
The following types of treatment are common for those who suffer from gambling addiction:
- Medication for depression or anxiety or other mental health problems
- Cognitive-behavioral therapy
- Behavioral therapy
- Support groups
Gamblers Anonymous is a world renowned support group that helps those who suffer from gambling addiction to stay on a direct path of continued abstinence from gambling through peer support. The groups use 12-step recovery methods similar to those which are outlined by Alcoholics Anonymous for the treatment of alcohol addiction. The gambler will have a sponsor who will help him or her by providing guidance and support along their journey to recovery from gambling addiction.