Gambling Addiction

  1. Article SummaryPrint
  2. What Is Gambling?
  3. What Are the Different Types of Problem Gambling?
  4. Why Do People Start Gambling?
  5. Who Is at Risk?
  6. What Are the Effects of Gambling Addiction?
  7. What Are the Treatment Options for Gambling Addiction?

Gambling addiction is commonly considered a hidden problem. A gambling addict does not display the obvious physical signs and symptoms of a drug or alcohol addict. Loved ones are often blindsided by the consequences of a gambling addiction, realizing the problem only after the person has spent huge sums of money and incurred significant debts. Recognizing and exposing a gambling problem as early as possible is the key to mitigating the effects on the gambler and the people who love and depend upon him or her.

Like alcohol, gambling is a legal vice with an economic basis that drives the development of the industry. Research has shown that easy access to gambling results in an exponential increase in reports of gambling addiction. States that have permitted casino gambling, allowed riverboat casinos, expanded the lottery, and fostered the gambling industry within their borders in other ways have reported a growing number of gambling addicts across all demographics. Unfortunately, there is no economic incentive to do anything about this correlation, because the gambling addicts actually drive profits to the government.

With temptation around every corner, it is easy for a person to start gambling and not acknowledge the scope of the problem until the compulsion has ruined the person's life. Gambling is portrayed in advertising these days as just a bit of harmless fun. People think of the little old lady who played the slots on vacation, the work crew that shared the price of a ticket and hit it big in the lottery, or the office betting pool for this year's March Madness college basketball tournament. Gambling is now as pervasive as a glass of wine with dinner, but for the people who find themselves gambling compulsively, it is a doorway to hell.

Gambling-AddictionProfessional gambling addiction treatment is often the only way to break a gambling habit for good. While many people like to think they can control the desire to gamble without professional intervention, the problem is often too complex for a person to handle on his or her own. Individual and group therapy on an inpatient or outpatient basis through a clinic or residential facility can help a person find the inner strength to work through problems and the willpower to resist temptation in the future.

Our 24-hour national referral hotline can help you identify the best gambling addiction treatment options. Call our treatment advisers at 1-800-928-9139, or fill out a contact form through the website. The consultation is free and confidential.

Fact:

Almost every state in the United States has some form of legalized gambling.

Fact:

The number of gambling addicts has steadily increased as states have legalized gambling. Currently, more than 16 million people in the United States have sought treatment for gambling addiction. More than half of those addicts are teenagers.

What Is Gambling?

You may think of gambling and immediately see a mental image of a casino with someone rolling dice or pulling the lever on a slot machine. Gambling is more than just the structured activities that happen in a casino. It is any activity where the person risks money or valuables in order to win something.

Gambling includes lotteries and the instant lottery tickets that many states sell. It encompasses betting on sports and horses. The person who plays the numbers every payday with the neighborhood bookie and the little old lady who goes to play bingo every night are gambling. Playing poker, pool, or darts can be the focus of a gambling problem.

The allure of gambling lies in the possibility of being favored by chance. Some gambling outlets, such as the lottery, are entirely about chance, while others, such as cards, combine chance with some degree of skill. It is often those gambling activities that combine chance and skill that seduce a player into thinking there is a way to outplay pure chance.

"Once a gambler becomes convinced that he or she knows a way to beat the odds, help may be needed. "The old saying that "fortune favors the house" is true in all games of chance, even if it appears otherwise. Gambling establishments cannot profit if the player has a high probability of winning. Once a gambler becomes convinced that he or she knows a way to beat the odds, help may be needed. If gambling has become a problem for you or someone you know, call our toll-free hotline at 1-800-928-9139, or fill out the contact form on our website, to discuss gambling addiction treatment options. The call is confidential, and our advice is offered with no obligations.

What Are the Different Types of Problem Gambling?

Problem gambling is any behavior that involves gambling and has a negative effect on a person's life. You can have a problem with gambling without necessarily being out of control.

A gambling problem can progress into pathological or compulsive gambling. This is considered by medical professionals to be a mental disease, like kleptomania, rather than a traditional addiction. The American Psychiatric Association considers compulsive gambling to be an impulse control disorder in line with other mental disorders that involve impulse control, such as antisocial personality disorder.

Medical professionals will often only classify a problem as pathological gambling if it is independent of other disorders. The person has to exhibit at least five of the following symptoms to be diagnosed with a compulsive gambling disorder:

  • Preoccupation with gambling
  • Needing to place increasingly larger wagers to get a rush
  • Restlessness or irritability when trying to stop gambling
  • Gambling to escape or to improve the person's mood
  • Trying to win back gambling losses with more gambling
  • Lying about the extent of gambling activities
  • Losing control of the gambling habit
  • Engaging in illegal acts to support a gambling habit
  • Risking significant damage to relationships
  • Seeking financial assistance from friends and family to support gambling activities

If you or someone you know has a gambling problem, you may benefit from professional gambling addiction treatment that can help you conquer the problem. Call our national referral helpline at 1-800-928-9139, or fill out the contact form, to speak to a treatment adviser. Our advisers are available 24 hours a day, every day of the week.

Fact:

People often assume that gambling is not really a problem if the person can afford the activity. In fact, it seems the more money people have to play with, the easier it is for the problem to take root.

Fact:

Adolescents who gamble have a higher risk of becoming problem gamblers than adults.

Fact:

More than half of all compulsive gamblers will commit crimes to pay off gambling debts. Reports show people committing these crimes tend to be first-time offenders.

Why Do People Start Gambling?

Many people start gambling simply because it is fun. Although most people expect to lose more than they win, there is always the possibility of beating the odds. This possibility makes gambling exciting. Many people feed off the adrenaline rush that comes from winning or the tension and risk that is part of trying to win, even when the person is losing.

Some people start gambling to make money. Often, these people feel they are skilled in playing a certain game of chance, such as poker. Other people think they have developed a system that will enable them to beat the odds. In many cases, people start gambling socially with friends and family.

Studies have shown that some people gamble as a way to relieve stress, depression, or loneliness. Teens who have reported gambling problems used gambling as an escape or to avoid problems at home.
 

Who Is at Risk?

Gambling-AddictionWhen you think of the prototypical gambling addict, you might think of a white male in his thirties or forties. Actually, over half of the people who have reported gambling problems in the United States are teens. Teens develop gambling problems at the rate of two to four times that of adults.

Gender is also not a barrier to gambling addiction. Women are just as susceptible as men. With new gambling activities that have been introduced into the marketplace, such as lotteries and Internet games, women can develop the same types of destructive gambling habits as men.

Studies have shown that some people are at higher risk of developing gambling problems. This category includes people who particularly enjoy taking risks and those who have trouble controlling impulses. People who started gambling at a young age are also at higher risk of developing gambling problems as adults.

Call us at 1-800-928-9139 to discuss treatment options for gambling problems in your area. Our toll-free helpline is available 24 hours a day. Alternatively, fill out the information form on the website, and we will contact you.

Fact:

In Atlantic City, you must be at least 21 years of age to enter a casino. Despite this law, casino security personnel report ejecting approximately 20,000 minors from casinos every year.

What Are the Effects of Gambling Addiction?

Gambling problems can affect a person's relationships, financial status, home life, and work prospects. Compulsive gambling can cause health problems, including anxiety, stress, depression, and mood swings. A compulsive gambler may even contemplate suicide when the burden of the addiction becomes overwhelming.

People who gamble compulsively will often do anything to acquire money. They will steal from friends and family. Gambling addicts are at high risk of committing felonies to support their habit. Pathological gamblers will exhaust the family savings and their children's college funds. They will max out their credit cards and drain joint bank accounts. Many people who are in the grip of a gambling addiction will mortgage their house, sell jewelry, and dispose of any other asset they can get their hands on to support their habit.

Psychologically, the gambling addict often experiences wild mood swings that mirror their wins and losses. As it becomes increasingly more difficult to fund the addiction, compulsive gamblers will sometimes become angry and frustrated. When loved ones start uncovering the extent of the financial obligations that have resulted from the person's gambling problem, the addict will often lash out. Studies have shown a direct correlation between a rise in domestic violence and gambling addiction in cities that have legalized gambling in some significant way.

Call our toll-free helpline at 1-800-928-9139 to discuss various gambling addiction treatment options. You can also click this link to contact us by email.

What Are the Treatment Options for Gambling Addiction?

Gambling Addiction Treatment

gambling addiction Treatment for gambling problems can involve individual counseling, group therapy, alternative therapy, and medication. Gambling addicts can be treated through clinics and residential treatment programs on either an outpatient or inpatient basis.

Treatment for gambling problems can involve individual counseling, group therapy, alternative therapy, and medication. Gambling addicts can be treated through clinics and residential treatment programs on either an outpatient or inpatient basis. No single treatment protocol has been approved by the FDA for the treatment of compulsive gambling. Instead, most treatment options build upon the medical industry's expertise with drug and alcohol addiction in an attempt to modify behavior, break bad habits, and teach new ways of dealing with stress and temptation.

The most important part of treatment for gambling addicts is finding a treatment methodology that meets the person's needs. Taking into consideration what suits the person's personality, schedule, and lifestyle while providing enough structure to allow the person to focus on recovery is the best way to ensure long-term success.

Generally, there are two treatment paths for gambling addiction. The gambler can self-direct his or her treatment, using a private psychologist for individual therapy and, perhaps, enrolling in a peer support group, such as Gamblers' Anonymous. This route might be suitable for a person who has a gambling problem that has not progressed to compulsion.

Alternatively, a gambling addict can choose a more structured treatment approach, using a clinic or residential treatment facility. Spending at least 90 days as an inpatient at a residential treatment facility is considered the gold standard of addiction treatment. It gives the patient enough time to absorb the lessons learned through therapy in a supportive environment before the person has to apply those lessons in a real-world setting.

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Inpatient residential treatment is not only for the compulsive gambler. It can also be a very effective treatment option for people who identify as having a gambling problem that has not progressed to compulsion.

Residential treatment includes daily individual counseling sessions with a licensed psychologist. Many facilities have a certified gambling counselor on staff with specific training in gambling addiction. These facilities also distinguish themselves by offering innovative treatment plans for gambling problems that use alternative therapies to help break the gambling habit.

Inpatient residential treatment is not only for the compulsive gambler. It can also be a very effective treatment option for people who identify as having a gambling problem that has not progressed to compulsion. The benefit of inpatient treatment is the ability to focus exclusively on recovery without any distractions from home or work life. In many instances, this focused approach can make the difference between a recovery that sticks when the person returns to a regular schedule and relapse.

Alternatively, a person can access the treatment options of many residential facilities on an outpatient basis. Many clinics offer a structured program that provides more guidance than a self-directed program but less restriction than a residential treatment facility. Choosing the right treatment option for a gambling problem can be a daunting process, if you try to do it alone. If you or a loved one needs advice or assistance, call our referral helpline at 1-800-928-9139 to speak to a treatment adviser, or fill out a contact form on the website. Our help is free and confidential.