What is gambling
For the most part, gambling in moderation is a socially acceptable behavior.
Gambling addiction is another story. If left untreated, a gambling addiction
can negatively affect your financial situation, relationships, and other
aspects of your life.
According to the National
Council on Problem Gambling, problem gambling affects more than 2 percent
of Americans. If you have a gambling addiction, you may feel an uncontrollable
urge to buy lottery tickets, visit casinos, play slot machines, bet on sports,
or gamble online. The specific type and frequency of your gambling behavior may
vary. But in general, you will be unable to control that behavior. You will continue
gambling, even in the face of negative social, financial, or legal
The majority of people with gambling addictions are men. But this type of
addiction can also affect women.
What are the symptoms of gambling addiction?
addictions often try to hide their condition, but a gambling addiction
can be difficult to conceal. You may need frequent access to casinos or online
gambling pools. Even if you gamble at home when no one is around, your
addiction may begin to show itself in other areas of your life.
If you have a gambling addiction, you may display some or all of the
- obsessing over any type of gambling
- gambling to feel better about life
- failing to control your gambling
- avoiding work or other commitments to gamble
- neglecting bills and expenses and using the money for
- selling possessions to gamble
- stealing money to gamble
- lying about your gambling habit
- feeling guilty after a gambling session
- taking bigger and bigger risks while gambling
You may also experience the
following consequences from your gambling addiction:
- disintegrating relationships or friendships
- loss of house, job, car, or other personal possessions
People with gambling
addiction don’t always gamble frequently. But when
they do start gambling, they may be unable to stop.
What causes gambling addiction?
When you have a gambling addiction, an area of your brain called the insula
may be overactive. This hyperactive region may lead to distorted thinking. This
can cause you to see patterns in random sequences and continue gambling after
Your brain may respond to the act of gambling in the same way that an
alcoholic’s brain responds to a drink. The more you feed your habit, the worse
it will become.
How is gambling
With the right treatment, gambling addiction is manageable. Unlike someone
with a food addiction, you don’t need the object of your addiction to survive. You
simply need to learn how to develop a healthy and balanced relationship with
It’s important for you to quit gambling completely, since even occasional
gambling can lead to a relapse. A program of recovery can help you develop
impulse control. In general, gambling addiction is treated with similar methods
as other addictions.
Although not frequently required, some people find that they need the
structure afforded by an inpatient program at a treatment center to overcome a
gambling addiction. This type of program may be especially helpful if you’re
unable to avoid casinos or other gambling venues without help. You will need to
stay in the treatment facility for a set amount of time, anywhere from 30 days
to an entire year.
Outpatient treatment programs are more commonly used by people with gambling
addictions. In this type of program, you will attend classes at a facility. You
may also attend group sessions and one-on-one therapy. You will continue to
live at home and participate in school, work, or other daily activities.
Gamblers Anonymous (GA), or other 12-step programs, may also help you
overcome your gambling addiction. This type of program may be especially
helpful if you can’t afford more intensive rehabilitation options. It follows
the same model as Alcoholics Anonymous, helping you build a support network of
other recovered gambling addicts. You may meet with group members one or more
times per week.
Psychotherapy or cognitive
In addition to group counseling or support sessions, you may also benefit
from one-on-one therapy. Gambling addiction can stem from deeper emotional or
avoidance issues. You will need to deal with these underlying issues in order
to change self-destructive patterns, including your gambling addiction.
Counseling gives you a place to open up and address these problems.
In some cases, you may need medication to help you overcome your gambling
urges. Your gambling addiction might result from an underlying mental health
condition, such as bipolar disorder. In these cases, you must learn to manage
the underlying condition to develop better impulse control.
Dealing with the financial consequences of gambling is sometimes
the hardest part of the recovery process. In the beginning, you may need to
turn over financial responsibilities to a spouse or trusted friend. You may
also need to avoid places and situations that can trigger your urge to gamble,
such as casinos or sporting events.
resources are available?
If you suspect you or someone you love has a gambling addiction, talk to
your doctor or mental health professional. They can help you find the
information and support you need. Several organizations also provide
information about gambling addiction and treatment options. They can help guide
you to local or online support services.
You may find the following organizations and resources helpful:
What is the outlook
for gambling addiction?
Like any addiction, compulsive gambling can be difficult to stop. You may
find it embarrassing to admit that you have a problem, especially since many
people gamble socially without developing an addiction. Overcoming the shame or
embarrassment that you feel will be a big step on the road to recovery.
A recovery program, one-on-one counseling, medication, and lifestyle changes
may help you overcome your gambling addiction. If you don’t treat your gambling
problem, it can lead to serious financial issues. It can also negatively affect
your relationships with family members, friends, and others. Effective
treatment can help you avoid these consequences and mend your relationships