Treatment for gambling addiction
Gambling Disorder, otherwise referred to as compulsive gambling or gambling addiction, is an urge to gamble continuously despite harmful negative consequences or a desire to stop. Gambling addiction is a common disorder that is associated with both social and family costs. A common feature shared by people who suffer from gambling addiction is impulsivity.
Gambling Disorder is considered a process addiction. Process addictions have much the same pathology, trajectory, potential for negative consequences, and treatment protocol as substance use disorders. Because gambling behaviours are reinforced by dopamine release in the brain, similar to drug abuse, the ‘high’ or rush that gamblers get actually creates a physical, and not just psychological dependency.
Common symptoms of gambling addiction include:
- Need to gamble with increasing amounts of money in order to achieve the desired excitement
- Restlessness or irritability when attempting to cut down or stop gambling
- Repeated unsuccessful efforts to control, cut back, or stop gambling
- Preoccupation with gambling (e.g., having persistent thoughts of reliving past gambling experiences, planning the next venture, thinking of ways to get money with which to gamble)
- Gambling when feeling distressed (e.g., helpless, guilty, anxious, depressed)
- After losing money gambling, returns another day to get even (‘chasing one’s losses’)
- Lying to conceal the extent of involvement with gambling
- Loss of significant relationships, job, education, or career opportunities because of gambling
- Reliance on others to provide money to relieve desperate financial situations caused by gambling
Treatment of gambling addiction at Miracle’s Asia
In line with our treatment of the whole person, the key to any successful gambling treatment program is to identify the dysfunctional behaviours and thinking that accompanies them, understand and deconstruct the mechanisms that maintain the behaviour, and develop new, healthy substitute actions to replace the “need’ for gambling in the first place.
At Miracles Asia we combine recognised Twelve-Step models and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) which has been shown to reduce symptoms and gambling-related urges. This type of therapy focuses on the identification of gambling-related thought processes, mood and cognitive distortions that increase one’s vulnerability to out-of-control gambling. Additionally, CBT approaches frequently utilise skill-building techniques geared toward relapse prevention, assertiveness and gambling refusal, problem-solving and reinforcement of gambling-inconsistent activities and interests.
For more information on our gambling addiction treatment approaches, please click here.