Treating gambling addiction
Gambling can be a fun once-in-a-while activity or, for the lucky few, a way to win that illusive jackpot. Unfortunately, gamblers can become obsessive and compulsive about playing the ponies or pulling the one-armed bandit. They may find themselves in the throes of an addiction that could ruin them financially, socially, psychologically or even physically.
What Causes Gambling Addictions?
Addictions, no matter the substance or action, all find their root cause in psychology. So, what causes gambling addictions? While many people can begin to do or take something as a habit, an addiction forms when that person becomes psychologically dependent. Simply put, an addiction is when you simply cannot stop doing something by choice alone because you need the high, the end result or the fulfillment it provides. Gamblers Anonymous explains that gamblers often feel they can control their activities while compulsive gamblers are actually controlled by them instead. This much is certain: While no one chooses to have an addiction, it’s important to choose when to break free of its hold.
If you become addicted to gambling, your entire life can be impacted. You can face financial ruin, the loss of your home or business because of gambling debts, the ending of a marriage or loss of child custody, or your downward spiral can lead you to additional addictions and psychological ailments. This is why it’s so important to recognize a problem as early as possible, so you can find help on treating gambling addiction.
Is There a Cure for Gambling?
Psychological illnesses, such as obsessive-compulsive disorder or anorexia, don’t have an endpoint at which they are declared cured. At Gamblers Anonymous, members come to know that this is true of their illness as well. Is there a cure for gambling? No. But as with any other addiction, steps can be taken to break the hold gambling has over your life or over the lives of your loved ones. Whether you gamble all the time and cannot stop or go on binges that spiral out of control, the time to seek help is now.
Therapies for Gamblers
Therapies for gamblers run the gamut from intensive treatments to group-based recovery. Gambling addiction treatment programs are not a one-size-fits-all proposition; rather, you need to educate yourself on the options available to you and your family, so you can make the right decision that leads to the best outcome for everyone involved.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Treatment
Cognitive behavioral-therapy treatment sessions have shown promising results in the face of a variety of addictions, including gambling. With this treatment, a mental health professional can help an addict to identify the thought processes that have led to the compulsive gambling practice. For instance, many gamblers come to believe that if they just keep placing bets for a while longer, they will surely win the large jackpot they’ve been chasing. Instead of the dream of riches, other gamblers will keep at it, hoping that future winnings will pay their past debts.
Due to the psychological nature of a gambling addiction, a gambler’s moods may come to depend entirely on the highs of jackpots and the lows of losing streaks. With cognitive behavioral therapy, a gambler can begin to identify these misperceptions and work to correct them. When these root causes are identified and addressed, you or your loved one can begin the road to recovery.
Other Therapeutic Methods
Gambling addiction treatment program options include other therapeutic methods as well. Psychotherapy, or the practice of dealing with gambling triggers through individual and group counseling sessions, can lead to many of the same results as cognitive behavioral therapy, including isolating causes and reversing misperceptions.
Family therapy can also be beneficial to the addicted gambler. When you compulsively gamble, it’s likely your family is affected as well. Family therapy addresses not only the issue of gambling itself but also deals with healing family relationships and moving forward on the recovery path together.
An important part of gambling therapy can also be the limitation of access to gambling opportunities. This can be difficult; many people cannot avoid exposure to the office Super Bowl pool or the gambling ads that appear across the Internet. But by at least limiting access to the most obvious and accessible avenues, a gambling addict can begin to focus on their obsessive or compulsive behavior, instead of dealing only with avoidance.
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