What is the best therapy for gambling?

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What is the best therapy for gambling?

05 August, 2022Articles, News

For the most part, gambling in moderation is socially acceptable behaviour. Gambling addiction is another story. If left untreated, a gambling addiction can negatively affect your financial situation, relationships, and other aspects of your life very similar to substance addictions.

Gambling addiction falls into the category of process addictions. The brain of a gambling addict responds in the same way that an alcoholic’s brain responds to drinking. The more a gambling addict feeds their habit the worse it becomes. Process addictions are particularly difficult to treat as it is not a matter of abstaining such as the case of substance addiction but learning how to healthily engage with money.

With gambling addiction, the addicted person gets relief and release from the activity of gambling. 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 frequency of gambling addicts’ behaviour may vary but in general, they are unable to control that behaviour. A gambling addict will continue gambling, even in the face of negative social, financial, or legal consequences.

People with addictions are often very secretive about their condition, but more often than not gambling addiction is very difficult to conceal. Gambling addicts require frequent access to casinos and online gambling sites. Even if a gambling addict gambles in the comfort of their home, the gambling addict’s addiction may start to show itself in other areas.

If you have a gambling addiction, you may display some of the following behaviours:

  1. Failing to control your gambling
  2. Neglecting bills and expenses and using the money for gambling
  3. Obsessing over any type of gambling
  4. Taking bigger and bigger risks while gambling
  5. Stealing money to gamble
  6. Feeling guilty after a gambling session
  7. Avoiding work or other commitments to gamble
  8. Gambling to feel better about life
  9. Selling possessions to gamble
  10. Lying about your gambling habit

You may also experience the following consequences from your gambling addiction:

  • Disintegrating relationships or friendships
  • Loss of house, job, car, or other personal possessions

With the right treatment gambling addiction can be managed. Unlike food addiction, a gambling addict doesn’t require the object of their addiction to survive but needs to develop a healthy and balance relationship with money.

People with gambling addiction don’t always gamble frequently. But when they do start gambling, they may be unable to stop.

Programs to help with a gambling addiction:


Gambling addiction is a serious condition that can destroy lives. Although treating a gambling addiction can be challenging, many people who struggle with compulsive gambling have found help through professional treatment mostly in the inpatient gambling rehab setting. The structured environment afforded by an inpatient program has proven helpful in treating gambling addiction.

An inpatient gambling rehab programme may be especially helpful if the gambling addict is unable to avoid casinos or other gambling venues without help. Removing the gambling addict from their home environment and going into an inpatient gambling rehab program offers a break from the world and allows the gambling addict to face their underlying causes and conditions related to their addiction. Compulsive gambling addiction is not related to morality or values issues it is fraught with complex motivations and often related to trauma of some sort.


An outpatient program may also be useful in treating a gambling addiction. An outpatient program consists of one-on-one counselling session and group therapy sessions whilst one continues to live at home, work and attend school. Treatment approach often depends on the severity of the disorder.

12 Step

Gamblers Anonymous (GA), or other 12-step programmes, may also help a gambling addict overcome their gambling addiction. This type of program may be especially helpful if the gambling addict can’t afford more intensive rehabilitation options. It follows the same model as Alcoholics Anonymous, helping the gambling addict build a support network of other recovering gambling addicts. The gambling addict may meet with group members one or more times per week.


Some gambling addicts opt to seek treatment solutions in cognitive behavioural therapy, psychotherapy and medication.

It’s important that a gambling addict quits gambling completely. Occasional gambling can lead to a relapse. A program of recovery can help a gambling addict develop impulse control.

Like any addiction, compulsive gambling can be difficult to stop. The gambling addict may find it embarrassing to admit that they have a problem, especially since many people gamble socially without developing an addiction. Gambling addiction is treated with similar methods as other addictions.

Crossroads Recovery Centre has specialist staff and programmes that help to deal with these complex issues. Crossroad’s process is a 12-step program which is specifically focused on the problem of gambling.

Family support is also an integral part of the treatment and Crossroads runs a family support group every second week to help the family members and loved ones going through the process.

Treatment for gambling addiction may involve an outpatient program, inpatient program in a gambling rehab depending on the severity needs and resources. Treatment for substance abuse, depression, anxiety or any other mental health disorder may be part of your treatment plan for a gambling addiction.

If you or a loved one or friend is experiencing problems with a gambling addiction, please contact Crossroads Recovery Centre.

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Book a No Obligation Confidential Assessment at your nearest Treatment Centre Today.

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Stories of Recovery

  • The encouragement, love and support from the team at Crossroads allowed me to eventually see that I was worth something - that my life could be turned around and that I could accomplish the things that had long been a forgotten dream.
    Oliver VG
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  • On the last day of my stint at Crossroads I could only express gratitude towards all who works there. A wise councillor once commented on my question when one is ready for rehab by explaining that when one is ready for rehab, rehab is ready for you.
    Johan B
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  • I was lost and my soul was broken until I ended up at Crossroads and was introduced to the Twelve Steps. With the help of their excellent staff and amazing support I have recently been clean for 18 months, I could not have done it without them!
    Carla S
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  • "Just for today I am more than three years in recovery. I have Cross Roads to thank for this wonderful gift. Cross Roads helped me to set a firm foundation in my recovery on which I can continue to build."
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