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23 March, 2021Articles, News

Gambling in and of itself is not necessarily a problem. Like drinking alcohol, gambling in moderation does not lead to addiction for most people. It becomes an issue when someone feels compelled to gamble despite any consequences. The condition can be difficult to manage due to the accessibility of gambling, particularly online gambling. Although some gamblers prefer one method over another, all types can be addictive. Research shows gambling and drugs impact the reward centres of the brain in similar ways. This may be why many people with gambling addiction report a “high” during a game. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) puts gambling addiction in the same category as substance abuse diagnoses.

Treatment for co-occurring mental illness and | or substance abuse 

Gambling addicts are significantly more likely to have mental health disorders or substance abuse problems. The statistics are bracing. According to www.masscompulsivegamblin.org, research shows that 50% of problem gamblers have a mood disorder and 60.8% have a personality disorder. 75% have an alcohol abuse problem and 38% have a drug use disorder. If you are diagnosed with a mental health disorder or substance abuse, it’s crucial to address it directly. The gambling addiction is not happening in a vacuum. It may be that your various addictions are a way you are self-medicating considerable mental distress.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

While behaviour therapy approaches work directly on a person’s gambling behaviors, cognitive behavioural therapy targets the underlying belief systems that fuel a gambling addiction. As a treatment for gambling addiction, the cognitive behavioural approach seeks to help a person see gambling in a different way. By changing a person’s underlying belief system, thoughts and behaviours naturally follow suit.

Cognitive behavioral therapy also addresses other underlying issues that may feed a gambling addiction, such as unresolved problems surrounding a person’s self-image, relationships with others and mental

Health problems. By working through any unresolved issues, a person has no reason to use gambling as an escape outlet.

As part of a cognitive behavioral treatment for gambling addiction, participants also confront any irrational beliefs they may have about gambling and the actual risks involved. Since a gambling addiction functions as a behaviour-based, process addiction, behaviour-based treatments work best when it comes to breaking the addictions hold on a person’s life.

Social Support | Self-help groups:

Programs like Gamblers Anonymous (a 12-step program based on the principles of Alcoholics Anonymous) can provide strong peer support when you are struggling to let go of compulsive gambling. People who have “been there and done that” can uniquely provide sympathetic understanding and encouragement. Like most self-help groups, success is often determined by the culture and commitment of the group. Look carefully to see how successful other people in the group have been in their efforts to quit. Success by others tends to breed success.

Inpatient Treatment (Primary): 

If your gambling addiction has led to severe social, medical, legal and/or financial difficulties, you may need to find an inpatient program to give a jumpstart to your treatment. Inpatient programs provide constant supervision, intensive daily individual and group sessions as well as coaching for managing your life differently. Often a few weeks inpatient sets a person on a positive road to recovery.

However. 28 days inpatient isn’t a cure. It is only a time to interrupt the compulsion and to begin to set another way of being in motion. Follow up with some combination of the other interventions is crucial if the gains made while inpatient are to stick.

Outpatient rehabilitation program

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.

What support 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:


Treatment for Gambling Addiction (psychcentral.com)

Gambling Addiction Therapy, Gambling Addiction Therapist (goodtherapy.org)

Gambling Addiction: Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment (healthline.com)Gambling Addiction and the Behavioral Treatment That Can Help (addictions.com)

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