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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 gambling abuse is an addiction where a person has difficulty controlling their gambling. The behavior often leads to severe consequences for the person affected, and they may have tried to quit without success, even if the consequences affect their finances, relationships and work. There can often be a pattern 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

New figures from the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) indicate “that there is far more problem gambling in Ireland than previously believed. Given that problem gambling is hard to measure and often hidden, the researchers used a range of techniques to try to get an honest, accurate picture. The best estimate from the study is that 1-in-30 adults in Ireland suffers from problem gambling – ten times higher than a previous measure from 2019.”

It is common to have other mental health problems if you have a gambling addiction. They may have problems with alcohol and drug abuse. Anxiety and depression are also common. Underlying ADHD, personality problems or obsessive-compulsive disorder can also cause problems. If you feel very bad 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 in society influence its development. Gambling addiction is a disease where the brain’s reward system is affected and this can lead to the continuation of the problem.

Sometimes neuropsychiatric problems with impulse control problems such as ADHD may be behind the behavior. 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 can also lose money and try to win it back, losing more. You may have tried to quit and failed. Gambling can also have consequences such as not taking responsibility for work, studies and 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 Behavioral Therapy (CBT) but you may also need more help from various support groups (such as Gamblers Anonymous Ireland), and sometimes medical treatment. Motivational interviewing in conjunction with CBT can help to increase your understanding of yourself and why your problems developed. CBT provides tools for changing negative thought patterns and behaviors 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 also possible to get treatment for gambling addiction online. You can find more information on Irish resources here.

If you need more support for gambling addiction

Gambling addiction can also affect other family members. There is support for relatives and children of those with an addiction, and Social Services can 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 that you 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 to change

Book a 20- or 45-minute session with a qualified coach, therapist or psychologist today via our website booking form. If the time is not right now, remember that there is always an opportunity to come back when you are ready to make a change. Together we make the hard things 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 behavior 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 behavior.

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 things like betting higher amounts of money to get a buzz, borrowing money from others to gamble, and 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 Behavioral 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, many of our therapists and psychologists offer counseling via video conferencing, for example. You can also seek help online at u003ca href=u0022https://www.beroendecentrum.se/vara-mottagningar/mottagning-online/spelprogrammet/u0022u003eBeroendecentrumu003c/au003e.

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 to improve quality of life

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 behavior 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 behavioral therapy (CBT) is the most commonly recommended method. It involves working with thoughts, feelings and behaviors 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 Ellen Lindgren

Licensed psychologist

Ellen is a licensed psychologist and has experience mainly in clinical psychology where she has worked with various conditions such as stress, anxiety, depression, insomnia, crises and trauma in primary care and psychiatry. She has also worked with research while studying in the US and with affective disorders and insomnia at Karolinska Institutet, Sweden.