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Do you have a problem with gambling? Is it affecting your finances, work or relationships? Seek help if you or someone close to you feels this way. There is good support and help available.

What is gambling addiction?

Gambling addiction or abuse is present when a person has difficulty controlling their gambling. The behaviour often leads to severe consequences for the person affected, and they may have previously tried to quit without success. Gambling may affect their finances, relationships and work. Often a pattern exists of winning money, losing it and then trying to win it back. They may borrow money and get into debt. Gambling addiction is a psychiatric diagnosis and a serious problem, but help is available.

Facts about gambling addiction

In the UK, it is estimated that 0.5% of the population experiences problem gambling. Others are at risk from gambling but may not have yet developed an addiction. 7% of the UK population has been found to be negatively affected by someone else’s gambling.

It is also common to have other mental health problems if you have a gambling addiction. Problems may include alcohol and drug abuse. Anxiety and depression are also common. Underlying ADHD, personality problems or obsessive-compulsive disorder can be part of the cause. If you feel guilty about your gambling, it is important to seek help.

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How do you become addicted to gambling?

Gambling addiction has many different causes that interact with each other. Genetics, environment, and social factors influence its development. Gambling addiction is a disease where the brain’s reward system is affected and this can lead to a continuation of the problem.

Sometimes neuropsychiatric or impulse control problems such as ADHD may be behind the behaviour. Gambling can also be used to alleviate other mental health problems such as anxiety, stress or depression. If you have an alcohol or drug addiction, the risk of developing a gambling addiction may also increase.

Many people with a gambling addiction may feel ashamed and isolated. It is then important to seek help and support. You are not alone.

Help for gambling addiction

If you wonder whether you have a gambling addiction or are at risk of developing one, it is important to seek help. Otherwise, the problems can develop and become even worse over time.

Gambling addiction symptoms

Gambling addiction is a problem that can lead to feelings of discomfort and restlessness when not playing. To achieve excitement, people may increase their stakes and bet more money. You might also lose money and try to win it back, losing more in the process. You may have tried to quit and failed. Gambling can have consequences such as not taking responsibility at work, studies and in family life. They may also put themselves in financial debt and rely on others for financial support. To hide it from others, they may lie about their problem, just as they may do with other addictions.

If you recognise these symptoms, it is important to seek help to prevent problems from getting worse. There is help available.

Treatment for gambling addiction

The main psychological treatment recommended for gambling addiction is Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) but you may also need more help from various support groups and even medical treatment. Motivational interviewing in conjunction with CBT can help to increase your understanding of yourself and uncover why your problems developed. CBT provides tools for changing negative thought patterns and behaviours associated with gambling, as well as working on relapse prevention. If you or someone you know has problems with gambling, it is important to seek help.

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Treatment with CBT online

It is now possible to get treatment for gambling addiction online. Lavendla offers excellent online treatment through its qualified therapists.

Additional support for gambling addiction

Gambling addiction can affect other family members. There is support for relatives and children of those with an addiction, and Lavendla’s therapists can also help in these cases.

From conversation to understanding and change

Talk therapy is often the first step in seeking help. By working with a psychologist or therapist, you can begin to understand your symptoms and triggers, which is essential for long-term change.

When professional help is unavoidable

If you are experiencing signs of abuse or addiction that are affecting your life or work, it is essential to seek professional help. It is never too late to break free from abuse or addiction. Help is available and support is just a click away. So if you or someone you love is struggling with these issues, don’t hesitate to seek professional help.

The first step towards change

Book an introductory session with one of our qualified coaches, therapists or psychologists today through our website. If the time is not right t the moment, remember that there is always an opportunity to come back when you are ready to make a change. Together we make the difficult easier.

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12 common questions and answers on gambling addiction

What is gambling addiction?

Gambling addiction is a complex psychological condition where the individual feels an inability to stop gambling, despite negative consequences.

How does addiction differ from abuse?

Abuse is usually the initial stage, where we exaggerate a behaviour or consumption but still have some control. Addiction indicates a more severe problem, often with physical or psychological symptoms, if one tries to break the behaviour.

Is addiction a disease?

Yes, addiction is considered a brain disease because it affects the brain’s reward system and decision making.

Can addiction be cured?

Addiction can be treated, but it often requires long-term care and support. It is possible to become free from addiction to gambling.

What are the signs that I may be addicted to gambling?

Signs can include betting higher amounts of money to get a buzz, borrowing money from others to gamble, getting into financial difficulties, and having trouble coping with everyday life.

What are the risks of gambling addiction?

The potential risks range from major debt problems to poor physical and mental health, unemployment and loss of relationships.

How can I help a friend who is addicted to gambling?

The first step is to offer your support. Encourage them to seek professional help and stand by them during treatment.

What treatment options are available?

There are several different types of treatment such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), motivational interviewing and support groups.

How long does it take to recover from a gambling addiction?

It varies from person to person. Some may need a few months while others may need years of continuous care.

Is relapse common?

Yes, relapse is part of the recovery process for many people. The most important thing is not to give up. If you have relapsed, it is important to seek help as soon as possible to get back on track.

Can I be treated online?

Yes, Lavendla’s therapists and psychologists treat clients via video conferencing sessions. Choose a therapist on our website and book through their profile page.

How important is the support system around a person with an addiction?

A support system is often crucial to successful recovery. This includes not only professional help like therapists and doctors, but also family and friends who provide emotional and practical support. A good support system can help reduce the risk of relapse and help the person maintain a healthier lifestyle.

Steps in addiction treatment

Treatment for an addiction or abuse differs from person to person, although they often follow a similar format. To help you understand what professional help to break a destructive behaviour might look like, we have listed examples of the different phases.

  1. Evaluation and diagnosis
    The first step is often a thorough evaluation and diagnosis by a licensed psychologist or psychiatrist.
  2. Treatment planning
    An individual treatment plan is created, which often includes different treatment methods such as psychotherapy, drug treatment and sometimes even self-help groups.
  3. Psychotherapeutic treatment
    Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is the most commonly recommended method. It involves working with thoughts, feelings, and behaviours related to gambling. Relapse prevention is also usually part of the treatment. It may also include motivational interviewing.
  4. Follow-up
    Long-term treatment and follow-up are often necessary to prevent relapse. This may include regular meetings with healthcare providers and continued participation in support groups.
  5. Lifestyle changes
    Changes in lifestyle, including work, leisure, and relationships, are often necessary to support long-term recovery.
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Written by dominic

Dominic is a Cape Town-based copywriter and editor with a background in psychology.