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Gambling Rehabilitation.

17 February, 2021Articles, News

Why do so few people seek out help for gambling rehabilitation? Seeking treatment for substance addiction is a lot easier than that of gambling addiction. People often battle to accept that gambling can become an addiction and that such an addiction can be as debilitating if not more so that an addiction to substances.

Justifying gambling and denying a gambling addiction, ensures that reaching out for assistance for gambling rehabilitation is so much more challenging, as the first step would be to accept that gambling is in fact an addiction and then seek appropriate treatment at a facility.

One of the primary reasons for making it difficult to identify that gambling has become an addiction is that substance addiction affects the body and has serious visible health consequences and gambling addiction does not present itself with this specific consequence and make’s admitting to having a gambling addiction even more challenging and entering a treatment facility difficult.


The simple explanation of addiction is, a primary chronic disease of the brain reward, motivation, memory and body that involves compulsive use of one or more substances despite the serious health risks and social consequences. Addiction disrupts regions of the brain that are responsible for the reward, motivation, learning, judgement and memory. It damages various body systems as well as families, relationships, education and workplaces.

Addiction is often characterized by:

  1. Inability to abstain.
  2. Impairment in behavioral control, continual gambling regardless of consequences.
  3. Craving or increased need for gambling.
  4. Diminished recognition of significant problems relating to gambling behaviours and interpersonal relationships.
  5. Dysfunctional emotional responses, relating to gambling behavior.


Gambling addiction happens when an individual becomes pathologically focused on persuing reward from engaging in gambling, as well as achieving relaxation through gambling. Often the individual struggles to refrain from gambling, experiences intense craving and has difficulty resisting as well as minimal awareness of the problems and or consequences that arise as a result of their gambling addiction, including loss of time and loss of the ability to prioritize other life functions and responsibilities.

For someone with a gambling addiction, the feeling of gambling is equivalent to taking a drug or having a drink.

Gambling behaviour alters the person’s mood and state of mind.

It is difficult to seek help or treatment if you are not sure if you are in need of gambling rehabilitation. Identifying your gambling addiction and understanding the consequences of it and deciding to seek help are the first steps to recovery and seeking treatment in an addiction treatment facility.


Compulsive gambling:

As the gambling addict continues to engage in the behaviour, tolerance develops and it takes larger doses of the behaviour to produce the sought-after pleasure or relief.


This means that the body and brain send intense signals that strongly suggest to you that you need to fulfill a behaviour (gambling). Psychological cravings may occur as well.

Loss of control:

Once the addict is engaged or begins to gamble, they cannot stop.

Continued use despite adverse consequences:

Addictive behaviour such as gambling has negative consequences. Gambling addicts often are not aware of these consequences due to denial. Adverse consequences include loss of time at work, interpersonal relationships failing, financial wellbeing negatively impacted. Gambling addicts feel that the pleasure derived from gambling outweighs the consequences.


As the gambling addict becomes used to this feeling, they keep repeating the behaviour, attempting to achieve that same effect.

A person who has an addiction to gambling needs to gamble more to get the same “high.” In some instances, they “chase” their losses, thinking that if they continue to engage in gambling, they will win back the money they lost.


Withdrawal symptoms are unpleasant feelings and symptoms of restlessness, irritability and discontentedness. These symptoms occur present when gambling is withheld or not engaged in.

Once any of these have been identified an in-patient treatment for gambling addiction is suggested.


For a diagnosis of a gambling addiction, The DSM-5 states that a person must show or experience at least four of the following during the past 12 months:

  1. Need to gamble with increasing amounts of money to feel excitement
  2. Restlessness or irritability when trying to stop gambling
  3. Repeated unsuccessful attempts to stop, control, or reduce gambling
  4. Thinking often about gambling and making plans to gamble
  5. Gambling when feeling distressed
  6. Returning to gamble again after losing money
  7. Lying to conceal gambling activities
  8. Experiencing relationship or work problems due to gambling
  9. Depending on others for money to spend on gambling


Similar to other behavioural and or substance addictions, it is found that compulsive gamblers respond positively to psychosocial treatment. Cognitive behavioural therapy has shown to be particularly effective in addressing gambling addictions, as it teaches relapse prevention skills and how to change behaviours and thinking around the addiction.

12 Step based treatment and behavioural modification which aims at addressing the symptoms and causes of the addiction, will in turn lead t to total abstinence as a solution as well as a healthy lifestyle free from active addiction.

This type if treatment for gambling addiction is easily accessible in registered addiction treatment facilities in Pretoria or Johannesburg.

If you or a loved one are battling a gambling addiction and are in search of gambling rehabilitation – 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 care from the team at Crossroads Recovery Centre, Johannesburg, provides you with a map to sober, healthy living. No matter how bad things seem, there is hope and it’s just 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.

074 89 51043 JHB

012 450 5033 PTA


American Psychiatric Association

World Health Organization: ICD 10 classification of behavioral disorders (

Goodman A: Addiction definition and implications (

American Society of Addiction Medicine policy (

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