Gambling Addiction: Definition and Treatment

If you suffer from a gambling addiction, it can have devastating consequences for you and your family members. To this end, Banbury Lodge works hard to provide treatment and support to help all those affected to overcome this destructive illness. We want you to know that you do not have to continue struggling the illness; all you need do is contact us and we can start the process of helping you get your life back on the right track.

What Is Gambling Addiction?

Gambling addiction is an illness of the brain in the same way that any other addiction is. You may already feel that you have no control over your impulse to gamble and will do so even when knowing that it will have negative consequences for yourself and your loved ones.

Am I an Addict?

It is hard to come to terms with being classed as an addict and most people will practice denial to some degree. Some find that it is easier to deny the problem exists than to admit to it and having to face the consequences. Others hope that by doing nothing, the problem will rectify itself before anyone finds out.

However, you are probably already aware that this does not happen. Like any other addiction, a gambling addiction is a progressive problem that will not get better or go away without treatment. If you are still unsure as to the extent of your problem or are wondering whether you actually have an addiction or not, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do you spend most of your time gambling or thinking about gambling?
  • Is your gambling interfering with day-to-day life?
  • Are you gambling more money than you can afford to spend?
  • Do you find that once you start gambling, you are unable to stop?
  • Do you lie about your gambling or keep it a secret from loved ones?
  • Have you lost interest in hobbies or activities that you once enjoyed?
  • Do you prefer gambling over spending time with loved ones?
  • Are you neglecting responsibilities at home or at work because of gambling?
  • Do you chase losses when you gamble?
  • Have you been borrowing money to gamble with or to replace the money you have lost while gambling?

If you have answered yes to two or more of the above questions, you may have a gambling problem and would benefit from speaking to someone before things spiral even further out of control.

It is easy to allow gambling to get out of hand, and getting things back on track can be difficult. Nevertheless, unless you speak to someone about your gambling habits, you are unlikely to have the strength to quit alone. Thankfully, with professional help, it is possible to put an end to gambling before you lose everything you hold dear.

How Did I Become Addicted?

A gambling addiction can happen to anyone. There is no single cause that results in this condition developing, although there are a number of factors that are said to increase the risk.

In the early days, you may have gambled for fun and never had any problems with it. Maybe you liked to place the occasional bet on a football match or a horse race? Or perhaps you enjoyed a night in a casino every now and then? Nonetheless, if you have reached a stage where you have become obsessed with gambling to the point where it is impacting daily life, you are likely to require professional help to bring things under control once more.

Not everyone who gambles will develop an addition; in fact, most people who gamble do so in moderation. However, for some, gambling becomes an obsession and the need to gamble is compulsive. Many of these become hooked on gambling very quickly, but for most, it is an illness that develops gradually.

You have a higher risk of developing a gambling addiction if you were regularly exposed to gambling from a young age, if you have a family history of addiction, or if you have experienced traumatic events.

In the early days, you will have had a measure of control over your gambling and might have enjoyed the thrill and anticipation of the bet. But as time went by, you became hooked on the thrill and sought to recreate it repeatedly. You may have started to gamble larger amounts of money to increase the anticipation you experienced.

What Are the Consequences of a Gambling Addiction?

You may have heard gambling addiction referred to as a ‘secret’ or ‘hidden’ addiction, and the reason for this is because online gambling has made it possible to gamble without anyone knowing what you are doing. It is this ability to gamble in secret that can make this such a destructive illness.

As there are no outward physical signs, it often reaches critical stages before loved ones realise there is a problem. This means that many gambling addicts reach a stage where they are in danger of losing everything before they are forced to face their issues head-on.

It is easy to assume that a gambling addiction might not have negative consequences for health because there are no mood-altering chemicals involved, but the reality is that both mental and physical health can be negatively affected.

Furthermore, many gambling addicts will begin abusing alcohol or drugs at the same time, which can often exacerbate their problem. Losing inhibitions while under the influence of mood-altering substances can cause these individuals to become more reckless with their gambling, which can lead to devastating consequences.

The secrecy surrounding a gambling addiction can take its toll on mental health. If you have been losing large sums of money without your loved ones’ knowledge, you could be feeling the strain. Dealing with such a huge and potentially devastating secret can lead to feelings of stress and anxiety. This can ultimately have a knock-on effect on physical health.

One area of your life that is bound to be affected is your finances. As you might imagine, a gambling addiction requires access to a constant source of funds. As the illness progresses, your need for more and more cash can become a huge headache. If you are spending all your available funds and then some, it is likely that you have found yourself in a financially precarious position.

Maybe you have started to borrow from family members or friends, or financial institutes? This is not uncommon. Many gambling addicts become so desperate for cash to gamble with that they resort to criminal activity in the hope that they will secure a big win and be able to pay back the money before anyone notices. Fraud and theft are common among addicts, which can lead to a breach of trust in some situations and prison sentences in extreme cases.

As you might imagine, financial pressure can place a strain on relationships with those you love. In some cases, a partner or other family member does not discover the problem or the extent of it until faced with some financial disaster, such as the loss of the family home, because their addicted loved one has been failing to keep up with mortgage payments.

This can be seen as a massive betrayal of trust and eventually lead to the breakdown of what were once strong and healthy relationships. Divorce rates are high among couples where a gambling addiction has developed.

Where Can I Find Help for My Gambling Problem?

As well as the many online resources available that will provide information and help in terms of how to self-exclude, there are organisations across the UK that provide treatment programmes for those struggling with a gambling addiction.

Below are a few places you can go for help:

  • The NHS – The NHS is probably going to be the first place you turn when needing help for any medical problem. NHS-run programmes tend to be outpatient based and are free. Nevertheless, because these programmes are in great demand, there is likely to be a long waiting time before you can access a place.
  • Charities – Charity organisations are often set up by those who have been through their own addiction recoveries and want to do all they can to help others overcome their illnesses. Like NHS-run programmes, charity-run programmes are typically daycare based and there tend to be waiting times due to demand outweighing supply.
  • Local Support Groups – You can access help for your addiction from a local support group. Groups such as Gamblers Anonymous offer much-needed support for those affected by compulsive gambling.
  • Private Clinics – Private clinics are paid-for services that can be accessed immediately. Most private clinics provide residential programmes where you will leave your everyday life and move into the clinic for a period of between six and twelve weeks.

What Type of Treatment Is Best for Me?

The type of treatment programme that you choose will depend on several factors; these can include how severe your addiction is and how quickly you want to get better. If your addiction is not severe, you may be prepared to wait for treatment and would find that an outpatient programme with a charity organisation or the NHS is sufficient.

Nonetheless, if you would struggle to stay away from gambling while recovering in the real world, you might be better off with a residential programme, where you would have no access to any temptations or triggers. A residential programme provided by a private clinic might also be the best choice if you are keen to get started immediately and if you want to achieve recovery in the shortest amount of time.

It is important to take your personal circumstances into consideration before choosing a programme. It is important that you are happy and comfortable with your choice of treatment programme as otherwise, you may find it hard to commit to it.

What Happens during Treatment?

It is natural to wonder what treatment for a gambling addiction will be like. It might have been the idea of a treatment that has stopped you from reaching out for help until now. While overcoming the addiction will require time and effort, it is entirely possible that you can beat it for good with the right help and support.

If you decide to get treatment in a residential facility, Banbury Lodge is an excellent choice. We offer treatment programmes that are designed around you and your requirements. When you choose us, you can be sure of accessing a programme that works.

We are staffed by a team of fully trained counsellors, therapists, and doctors who work tirelessly to ensure you get full support at all times. Our clinic is a state-of-the-art facility where you will be secure and comfortable during your stay.

The treatment programmes we provide are concentrated and intensive and give you the chance to focus on recovery without any external distractions. We use a range of treatments that are all designed to help you get to the root of your problem.

You can expect your treatment programme to contain elements of the following traditional and holistic therapies:

  • Group therapy
  • Cognitive behavioural therapy
  • Dialectical behavioural therapy
  • 12-step work
  • Group therapy
  • Family therapy
  • Music therapy
  • Meditation
  • Mindfulness
  • Massage

The use of traditional therapies in conjunction with holistic treatments is proven to be successful in treating all types of addiction, and we believe that this is an approach that works well for everyone. The combined use of both types of treatment helps to heal your mind, body and spirit and can improve well-being while reducing stress.

Can You Help My Family to Recover?

We know that your addiction has probably had a negative impact on your loved ones and that they will also need help to overcome the issues that they are facing. That is why we provide family therapy for you and your loved ones.

Your family members can meet on a one-to-one basis with your counsellor to discuss the addiction and the impact it has had on them and you. There will also be the opportunity to take part in group therapy sessions where any underlying family issues that may have contributed to your illness can be addressed.

How Do I Get Started?

If you are ready to begin your journey to recovery, please do not hesitate to give Banbury Lodge a call today. We can provide the information you require as well as answer any questions you might have in terms of our programmes and how you can get started.

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UK Addiction Treatment Group.

We look forward to helping you take your first step.

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