What is a gambling addiction?
A gambling addiction is a progressive addiction that can have many negative affects including psychological, physical and social. It is classed as an impulse control disorder.
People who live with this addiction may experience depression, anxiety, migraines, intestinal disorders as well as other anxiety related problems. This can lead to feelings of despair and helplessness and in some cases, attempts of suicide.
Figures suggest that 1.4% of all gamblers in the UK become problem gamblers. It is estimated 300,000 people in Britain have symptoms of a gambling disorder, with a further 540,000 at “moderate risk”. Statistics for gambling disorders amongst men are more significant than for women.
Symptoms of gambling addiction
- Feeling the need to be secretive about gambling
- Having trouble controlling gambling habits
- Gambling when you cannot afford to
- Friends and family express concerns about your gambling
- Relationships can also be affected; this can be the way the person interacts at work or with family and friends, or they might miss work altogether.
Causes of gambling addiction
Gambling addiction is sometimes referred to as ‘compulsive gambling’ or ‘problem gambling’. The illness is based on risk taking. This can induce a natural high and a temporary altered psychological state. People experience an adrenaline rush when they win money and this causes problems in regulating emotions and behaviours. They seek to replicate this feeling of excitement and they gamble again.
For a diagnosis of gambling addiction, a person would need to show or experience at least four of the following in the previous twelve months:
- The need to gamble with increasing amounts of money to feel excitement
- Restlessness or irritability when trying to stop gambling
- Repeated unsuccessful attempts to stop, control or reduce gambling
- Spending time thinking about gambling and making plans to gamble
- Gambling when feeling distressed
- Gambling again after losing money
- Lying to conceal gambling activities
- Experiencing relationship or work problems due to gambling
- Depending on others for money to spend on gambling
Treatments for gambling addiction
If you concerned you or a friend/relative has a problem with gambling we can offer an initial assessment with a consultant psychiatrist. They will make a diagnosis and discuss a care plan. This can include referral to a therapist who you will see on a 1:1 basis. Some patients benefit from a group environment where they can share their experiences and learn from others. The consultant may recommend attending our day patient programme. You can attend from one full day to three full days and participate in the therapeutic programme that runs throughout the day. For those patients who require a more intensive approach to treatment the consultant may recommend admission to the Clinic. Day-patient and in-patient treatment are likely to be recommended if there is another mental health condition as well as gambling addiction.
Medication for gambling addiction
The psychiatrist may prescribe mood stabilisers and antidepressants which may help reduce symptoms of illnesses that co exist with the gambling problem e.g. Depression. Your consultant will discuss the options with you as each patient is different.
Therapy approach for gambling addiction
Talking therapies are recommended and these can include Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) which looks to change the way a person thinks and feels about gambling. Your therapist may recommend Behaviour therapy. This helps to reduce the urge to gamble by systematic exposure to the behaviour.
Many people find getting in touch with self help groups and being in contact with people with shared experiences can be beneficial.
As part of your treatment you will learn and develop coping strategies to prevent you from participating in addictive behaviour.
Get help for a gambling addiction today
GP’s looking to refer a patient may make a referral here.
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