Gambling Addiction-The House Always Wins
Gambling addiction is often misunderstood as it manifests itself in ways that are slightly uncommon to the more conventional addictions such as substance abuse or alcohol use. A lot of gamblers are often not aware of the fact that they suffer from an addiction and as a result, many are misdiagnosed and often mistreated. A common assumption is that those who suffer from a gambling addiction are depressed and act out on it by gambling and pursuing high-risk lifestyles and activities. This assumption has the potential to create a stigmatic attitude of self-disgust and disappointment, which many who eventually find themselves in addiction treatment centres for gambling- bring into treatment with them. This stigma often presents additional difficulties as it flares up during the treatment process and is sometimes used by the addict as a justification for their behaviour.
Gambling addicts have difficulties in setting clear priorities and goals as they are preoccupied by their addiction. Their ability to be responsible and accountable has been degraded. Externally, gamblers seem much more stable than most other addicts for whom the physical effects of their addiction are manifest. Chronic disregard becomes common place amongst these individuals as they continuously place their indulgence before the welfare of themselves and their loved ones.
Another characteristic of the gambling addict is an over-reliance on money, financial success and control to establish a sense of self-worth. If probed further than the most superficial symptoms of their
addiction, one sometimes finds that gambling addicts live very ordinary lives until they are introduced to the power of money for the first time. These individuals often go from being resigned to a mundane life to frequently indulging in high-risk behaviour.
On a psychic level, these individuals seem to be chasing an unending sense of purpose, confidence and security, which they feel when they have money. Thus to the gambler- money is often both the means and the ends. This all too natural drive for financial and material security is warped by their minds as their disease progresses. Sooner or later, in the life of a gambler, high-stake decision-making becomes the norm as gambling takes precedence in their lives. Money is the key to life for a gambler in the same way as heroin is to the heroin addict. It is important to understand how this form of addiction manifests itself in order for treatment to be effective. It often requires extraordinary measures to get gamblers to commit to their treatment and recovery.
The gambling addicts’ belief that their self-worth is related to their material wealth, needs to be addressed in their treatment programme, as does their impulsive thinking. They need to be held accountable for their behaviour and take responsibility for their consequences. This encourages them to take charge of their lives and often when approached in this manner, they begin to become less reliant on money to make decisions and become more conscious and aware of how they spend their time and energy.
Similar to Alcoholics Anonymous, there is a peer-supported network for gamblers – Gamblers Anonymous. These groups help to establish a sense of belonging in these individuals and encourage them to pursue full measures of accountability and responsibility in their lives. Dishonesty is commonplace amongst gambling addicts and they develop thick skins in order to avoid experiencing the disappointment associated with their actions in addiction. To address this, it is necessary to be assertive with the gambling addict. Various goal-setting as well as self-esteem building activities, are also necessary in order to establish a healthy sense of self-worth. This, coupled with the ability of the 12 steps to help an individual identify the root causes of their behaviour, makes it possible to effectively help these individuals recover from their addition to gambling.
If you or a loved one needs assistance with an addiction to gambling – know that help is readily available. The road to recovery is not always an easy one but getting yourself or your loved one the best possible care from the team at Crossroads Recovery Centre, provides you with a map to sober, healthy living. No matter how bad things seem, there is hope and it’s only a phone call away. If you or anyone close to you needs help with an addiction to sex, gambling, substances, alcohol or food, please contact us for a free assessment.
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 VGRead more
- 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 BRead more
- 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 SRead more
- "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."Angelique JRead more