Gambling addiction or problem gambling is a condition that affects millions of individuals. Similar to drug and alcohol addiction, an addiction to gambling leads to harmful effects in one’s daily life. Gambling does the most damage to one’s savings and earnings, which inevitably damages other people who are affected by the money used to gamble. Ultimately, the addiction leads to a large debt that must be paid off.
People with gambling problems often feel ashamed and try to avoid letting friends, family, and others know of their problem. The American Psychiatric Association defines pathological gambling as having five or more of the following symptoms:
- Committing crimes to get money to gamble
- Feeling restless or irritable when trying to cut back or quit gambling
- Gambling to escape problems or feelings of sadness or anxiety
- Gambling larger amounts of money to try to make back previous losses
- Having had many unsuccessful attempts to cut back or quit gambling
- Losing a job, relationship, or educational or career opportunity due to gambling
- Lying about the amount of time or money spent gambling
- Needing to borrow money due to gambling losses
- Needing to gamble larger amounts of money in order to feel excitement
- Spending a lot of time thinking about gambling, such as remembering past experiences or ways to get more money with which to gamble
Gambling addiction is usually treated through different kinds of psychotherapy. Treatment can range from:
Ultimately the individual must be able to admit that he or she has a gambling problem, otherwise, treatment will not likely be successful. It is also important that the person has support from close family or friends. A strong sense of obligation to these individuals will motivate the gambling addict to stop.
Once therapy begins, regular therapy and support are commonly needed to prevent the reoccurrence of gambling. Joining the support group Gamblers Anonymous can also help the person cope with the lifestyle change.
How Insight can Help
Insight has many qualified psychologists and therapists in our Edmonton, Calgary, and Red Deer offices with vast experience in the field of addiction. Visit our contact page to speak to a specialist or set up a telephone or Online counselling session.