Gambling addiction affects millions of people around the world and the United Kingdom is no exception. In recent years, there has been a growing concern about the impact of gambling on individuals, families and society as a whole. With the rise of online gambling, it has become easier than ever before to access these activities and many people are finding themselves trapped in a cycle of addiction.
What is gambling addiction?
Gambling addiction, also known as problem gambling or compulsive gambling, is a condition characterised by the uncontrollable urge to gamble, even when it causes negative consequences in a person’s life. This addiction is considered a behavioural addiction as it involves obsession over a behaviour rather than substances.
How does gambling addiction develop?
Problem gamblers become addicted to the thrill and excitement of gambling and may experience feelings of euphoria when they win, leading to a cycle of chasing losses and placing higher bets in an attempt to recoup their losses. Over time, the behaviour can lead to addiction, financial problems, strained relationships and other negative impacts on mental and physical health. It is estimated that around 246,000 people are likely to have some form of gambling addiction in the UK.
Is gambling as dangerous as a drug addiction?
While both gambling addiction and drug addiction are serious conditions, it’s difficult to compare the two and say which is more dangerous. Both can have significant impacts on an individual’s life, relationships and health.
Drug addiction involves physical dependence on a substance, which can cause severe withdrawal symptoms when the drug is stopped. This can make it particularly challenging to overcome and may require medical intervention and long-term support to manage.
On the other hand, gambling addiction can lead to financial ruin and other negative consequences but does not involve physical dependence on a substance. However, like drug addiction, it can be difficult to break the cycle of behaviour and requires specialised treatment and support.
What causes gambling addiction?
Gambling addiction, similar to other types of addiction, is a multifaceted disorder that arises from a combination of physical, psychological, environmental and possibly genetic factors.
Physical causes of gambling addiction
Gambling has been linked to changes in dopamine levels in the brain, which is a neurotransmitter that is involved in the brain’s reward and pleasure centres. This can lead to the development of a tolerance, where the individual requires larger amounts of dopamine to feel pleasure and may engage in riskier behaviours to achieve it.
Environmental causes of gambling addiction
- Exposure to gambling at a young age, particularly through family members or peers
- Easy access to gambling activities, such as online gambling or nearby casinos
- Social and cultural norms that encourage or normalise gambling behaviour
- Financial stress or instability, which may lead individuals to seek out gambling as a potential source of income or excitement
- Co-occurring mental health conditions, such as anxiety or depression, that may be exacerbated by environmental factors such as stressful life events or lack of social support
Psychological causes of gambling addiction
There are several psychological factors that may contribute to the development of gambling addiction, including:
- Low self-esteem
- Depression or anxiety
- Trauma or past experiences
- Personality traits
It’s important to note that these factors are not necessarily indicative of gambling addiction. However, addressing these underlying psychological issues may be an important part of treatment for those with gambling addiction.
Am I addicted to gambling?
Detecting the signs of gambling addiction early is crucial to obtaining the necessary support. However, identifying these signs is not always a straightforward process, as some symptoms can be inconspicuous and the addiction itself may lead individuals to underestimate the severity of their problem, as well as deceive those around them.
Here are some questions to ask yourself that may help you determine if you need to get help for gambling addiction:
- Have you ever lied to family or friends about how much you gamble or how much money you’ve lost while gambling?
- Do you often think about gambling, even when you’re not actively participating in the activity?
- Have you ever tried to cut back or stop gambling, but found yourself unable to do so?
- Do you become irritable or restless when you’re unable to gamble?
- Have you ever borrowed money or sold personal items in order to fund your gambling?
- Have you ever missed work, school or other important events in order to gamble?
- Have you ever felt guilty or ashamed about your gambling behaviour?
- Do you continue to gamble even when it has caused negative consequences in your life, such as financial problems or strained relationships?
If you answered yes to these questions, it is probable that you are battling a gambling addiction. It’s important to seek professional help in order to address this condition as soon as possible.
Helping a loved one with a gambling addiction
Helping a loved one with a gambling addiction can be a challenging and complex process. Here are some fundamental steps you can take to support them on their path to recovery:
- Educate yourself: Learn about gambling addiction, its causes and its effects so that you can understand what your loved one is going through.
- Approach them with care and compassion: Talk to your loved one in a non-judgmental and supportive manner. Avoid blaming or shaming them for their behaviour and express your concern for their well-being.
- Encourage them to seek professional help: Offer to help your loved one find a therapist or counsellor who specialises in treating gambling addiction. Many treatment options are available, including individual therapy, support groups and inpatient or outpatient programmes.
- Set boundaries: It’s important to establish clear boundaries with your loved one, such as not lending them money or covering their gambling debts. This can help them understand the seriousness of their situation and prevent enabling behaviour.
- Take care of yourself: Supporting someone with an addiction can be emotionally taxing, so make sure to take care of your own well-being as well. Seek support from friends, family, or a therapist if needed.
Remember that recovery from gambling addiction is a process that takes time and relapses can occur. Be patient and continue to support your loved one through their journey.
How is gambling addiction treated?
To effectively treat gambling addiction, it is crucial to adopt a comprehensive approach that addresses the complex nature of the condition. Specialised care and support are provided by gambling rehabilitation programmes to assist individuals in overcoming their addiction. The most effective way to undergo such treatment is as a resident at an inpatient gambling rehabilitation centre, such as Banbury Lodge, as this eliminates any triggers and provides total engagement in the recovery process.
Banbury Lodge’s programmes are comprised of a variety of evidenced-based therapies that aim to assist you in identifying the underlying causes and triggers of your condition, while also providing you with the necessary tools to manage it effectively. These therapies include:
- Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT)
- Motivational interviewing
- Individual and group counselling
- Yoga and art therapy
- Meditation and mindfulness
- Family support therapy
- Relapse prevention strategies
While at Banbury Lodge, you will have the chance to establish meaningful relationships with both our staff and fellow individuals in recovery. These connections can play a crucial role in supporting you throughout the recovery process and maintaining your progress beyond your stay at our centre.
Challenges you may face during gambling addiction recovery
Overcoming gambling addiction and achieving successful recovery entails confronting a series of challenges. It is crucial to comprehend these challenges beforehand, so you don’t feel overwhelmed when commencing gambling rehabilitation:
Our gambling rehabilitation programmes adhere to the 12-step process and is one of the most crucial steps involves making amends with individuals you may have afflicted due to your addiction. While this may be emotionally challenging and difficult, it is an essential step on your journey.
Your aftercare plan from Banbury Lodge encompasses relapse prevention strategies that assist in identifying potential triggers before they escalate into cravings or a relapse into gambling. This step is vital in preserving abstinence after completing the rehabilitation phase.
Confronting financial losses…
Recovering from financial problems stemming from gambling can be an arduous task, particularly if you are facing severe debt or have declared bankruptcy. However, once you have successfully conquered your gambling addiction, you will have the chance to seek counsel on how to manage your finances.
Substituting gambling with more healthy activities…
Gambling addiction can consume an immense amount of energy and time, necessitating the need to find healthier ways to occupy this empty space. Engaging in sports, exercising, enjoying leisure activities or finding a new hobby are all viable options
What to do next
If you or a loved one is struggling with gambling addiction, please reach out to us at Banbury Lodge for further information about our gambling addiction treatment programmes. Our family of trained professionals is available to answer any questions you may have and of your questions to support you every step of the way.#