Gambling Addiction 

Tre atment at Miracles Asia

Gambling Addiction.

 Gambling addiction or compulsive gambling is an urge to gamble continuously despite harmful negative consequences or a desire to stop. Problem gambling is often defined by whether harm is experienced by the gambler or others, rather than by the gambler’s behaviour Pathological gambling is a common disorder that is associated with both social and family costs.

Problem gambling is an addictive behaviour often with alcohol or drug problems. A common feature shared by people who suffer from gambling addiction is impulsivity.

There is a close relationship between gambling and substance use disorders and obsessive-compulsive disorder.

Common Symptoms include some of the following.

  • Needs to gamble with increasing amounts of money in order to achieve the desired excitement
  • Is restless or irritable when attempting to cut down or stop gambling
  • Has made repeated unsuccessful efforts to control, cut back, or stop gambling
  • Is often preoccupied with gambling (e.g., having persistent thoughts of reliving past gambling experiences, handicapping or planning the next venture, thinking of ways to get money with which to gamble)
  • Often gambles when feeling distressed (e.g., helpless, guilty, anxious, depressed)
  • After losing money gambling, often returns another day to get even (“chasing” one’s losses)
  • Lies to conceal the extent of involvement with gambling
  • Has jeopardized or lost a significant relationship, job, education or career opportunity because of gambling
  • Relies on others to provide money to relieve desperate financial situations caused by gambling


Most treatment for problem gambling involves counselling, step-based programs, self-help, peer-support, medication, or a combination of these. However, no one treatment is considered to be most efficacious and no medications have yet been discovered to be truly effective.

At Miracles Asia we combined recognized 12-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 utilize skill-building techniques geared toward relapse prevention, assertiveness and gambling refusal, problem-solving and reinforcement of gambling-inconsistent activities and interests.

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 that maintain the behaviour, and develop new, healthy substitute actions to replace the “need’ for gambling in the first place.

Because gambling behaviours are reinforced by dopamine release in the brain, similar to some drug abuse, the “high” or rush that gamblers get actually create a physical, and not just psychological dependency.  For many clients’s key to successful treatment of gambling addiction is not just to “not do it”, but what to do instead.

For those seeking information about self-help options for gambling addiction, Gamblers Anonymous (GA) is a commonly used treatment for gambling problems. Modelled after Alcoholics Anonymous, GA uses a 12-step model that emphasizes a mutual-support approach.