It’s not always easy to know when you are gambling obsessively, particularly when it provides a welcome release. But if you think your gambling is becoming excessive, the good news is that support is always accessible and available in different forms. The following page will outline everything you’ll need to know about the available treatments for gambling addiction and the options open to you.
Gambling addiction is a form of compulsive behaviour that’s often referred to as ‘problem gambling’. Despite the name, having gambling addiction does not mean that there is anything wrong with you or that you are causing a problem – it simply means that gambling is used as an unhealthy outlet to deal with deeper concerns.
Gambling addiction is a progressive addiction that can have negative ramifications in terms of your psychological, physical and social wellbeing. In medical terms, it is classed as an impulse-control disorder and is related to chemical activity in the brain that is associated with pleasure. Those living with this addiction may also find that it causes them distress, migraine, interstitial disorders and other anxiety-related conditions. In the worst cases, it can bring on suicidal feelings.
Compulsive gambling will become a dilemma when it can no longer be controlled, and you feel the need to gamble with increasing sums of money to get a buzz. When this happens, it is likely to have a negative impact on your finances, relationships and work. Should your problem get to this stage, you will need to seek help.
Compulsive gambling is a destructive addiction that can have devastating effects on individuals and their families. But unlike other addictions such as alcohol and drugs, problem gambling doesn’t require a detox programme, even though we know that it is related to chemical activity in the brain. Instead, it can be very successfully treated with a range of therapies, including group support and recovery resources.
We provide comprehensive rehab programmes for gambling addiction and other behavioural disorders, and all our clinics provide free aftercare and support for both the individuals and their families.
Possible side-effects of gambling addiction
It’s a sad fact that compulsive gambling frequently goes hand-in-hand with drug or alcohol addiction. In fact, studies have shown that around 33% of those with gambling addiction also admit to having an alcohol problem. And when it comes to young gambling adults, over a third are heavy users of either alcohol or drugs. On top of this, gambling addiction often causes psychological disorders like depression, anxiety and insomnia.
It’s important to remember that gambling is not a financial problem. It’s an emotional problem that spells financial ruin. There are several tell-tale signs to look out for. For instance, someone with a gambling addiction will often:
While compulsive gambling is clearly a serious problem for both individuals and their families, it isn’t a condition that requires a detox programme in the same way as drugs or alcohol do. Rather than cleansing toxins from the body, behavioural therapies can be successfully harnessed to effectively treat those with gambling addiction. These therapies include group therapy, individual therapy, family and couples counselling and holistic therapies such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), mindfulness and yoga. All these therapies can also be combined at our clinics.
At Recovery.org.uk, we offer a comprehensive rehab programme for those with gambling addiction, as well as other addictions. As the number one private provider of addiction treatment in the UK, we pride ourselves on providing an exceptional level of service. So, you can expect to receive aftercare and first-class support at every step of the process; this goes for both individuals concerned and their respective families.
If you think you have a gambling addiction, your first port of call should always be your GP who will assess your symptoms. From here, you’ll have several options open to you.
Should you decide that residential inpatient treatment isn’t the right option for you, you can opt for free treatment via the NHS and its National Gambling Treatment Service. But you will, of course, need to meet their criteria, and you are unfortunately likely to encounter waiting lists.
Alternatively, if you are able and willing to pay for treatment, or have access to private insurance, the private option offers you immediate access to the kind of treatment you are going to need, as well as first-class facilities.
Unlike other addiction therapies like alcohol and drugs, there is no detox involved, but aftercare is an important part of the recovery process. A supportive centre will offer free aftercare to encourage you through any hurdles when you leave the comfort of the clinic.
If you would rather not stay at the clinic and therefore choose outpatient treatment, aftercare is usually not provided. However, there are various support groups you can join. Among these are Gamblers Anonymous UK, who adopt a similar 12-step programme to recovery as Alcoholics Anonymous.
Generally speaking, rehab clinics will provide 14-day, one month and two-month programmes. A 28-day programme is the minimum recommended time for someone with a gambling addiction. But the length of treatment will depend on the severity of your addiction, the length of time you have been living with it and your preferences.
You have the option of applying for free residential rehab through the NHS and its National Gambling Treatment Service. This said, you will need to meet their criteria, and long waiting lists are inevitable.
Alternatively, there are many private clinics offering residential treatment that will become available within 24 hours.
With inpatient rehab, you’ll be residing at the clinic 24/7. There’ll be no distractions and you’ll be able to build bonds with others going through the same process. Because you can reside at the centre until you have learnt the tools to control any urges, there’s less chance of slipping into your old ways. By focusing on your addiction, its causes and triggers, the path to recovery is open to you.
With outpatient rehab, you’ll be visiting the clinic during the day and returning home after each session, so it will be less intensive. However, because you return home each evening, there’ll always be the temptation to regress.
Naturally, private clinics are not affordable for everyone, but some centres, including Recovery.org.uk clinics, accept private insurance on certain policies. If you have private medical insurance, you will need to check your policy to see if you are covered. The advantage of private rehab is that you will be able to access it within 24 hours; you’ll benefit from excellent facilities, you’ll have your own private room and you’ll have a choice over clinics.
The free alternative to private rehab is provided by the National Problem Gambling Clinic, which is part of the National Gambling Treatment Service and is jointly commissioned by GambleAware and NHS England. But the drawback is that once you meet their criteria, you are likely to encounter waiting lists which can last for months and the treatment offered is not specifically addiction-based.
The charity Turning Point also offers a limited number of beds for those meeting their criteria.
We provide a comprehensive range of therapies for gambling addiction through our private clinics. These therapies include:
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), which utilises many techniques, including role-play and story-telling, to successfully address false expectations and mistaken perceptions that most gamblers display.
Group therapy sessions, in which members exchange experiences, coping strategies, aims and challenges. This can prove extremely effective at helping clients come to terms with their problems and build constructive and achievable strategies to overcome their addiction in a supportive environment.
Individual therapy is also valuable, as a therapist can help the client to understand their addiction and tackle the key triggers to their compulsive gambling with tailor-made strategies. These will address all those stresses and psychological issues that may lurk beneath the surface, in a confidential setting.
Families or couples counselling also forms an important part of the treatment, as it helps cement a solid and supportive foundation on which a recovery can be built. By addressing issues like financial problems and the lying and deceit inflicted on family and friends, the client and the whole family can move forward. In addition, there may be deep-seated psychological issues that have affected members of the family, which counselling can also address.
All of our clinics offer one-year free group aftercare to everyone that completes rehab with us. All clients will also have a lifetime access to Alumni network, to encourage positive connection, consistent support and keep clients updated with useful tools throughout their recovery.
Problem gambling can have a devastating effect on families. Whatever form it takes, whether online gambling or trips to the bookmakers, compulsive gambling creates mounting debt, emotional distress, and deceitful behaviour. If you are close to someone you suspect of having a gambling problem, you’ll likely be anxious to find them support. But before doing anything, please remember that you cannot force the issue. The person must be ready to address their compulsions to ensure a successful recovery.
Sit down with them and calmly express your concerns. Offer constructive advice by outlining the pros and cons of seeking treatment. Remain open-minded and never try to lecture.
The good news is that help is at hand and that therapies designed specifically for gambling addiction can be very effective. For further details about therapies and guidance about gambling addiction, please contact us for advice or reach out to one of our rehabs to find out more.