Compulsive gambling is not as well recognised as other addictions such as drugs, alcohol and smoking, yet gambling opportunities continue to grow.
With the rapid development of new media, such as the Internet and interactive TV, the addiction is likely to become more widespread and affect many more individuals than it does so already. The compulsive gambler suffers with an uncontrollable urge to gamble and when the bills pile up they look back and ask themselves what they have done. Yet they continue to hide the problem, with fear that others will discover how much they have lost on a game of chance.
On this page
Thought processes of a gambler
Often the compulsive gambler will begin to panic and see no way out, but then the slightest amount of good news will bring the individual back their optimism, so the gambling begins again. The struggle to control the addiction becomes harder each day and emotional outbursts are common with sufferers. However the gambling will continue as it involves escaping from reality and living in a fantasy world where the addiction is not an issue. The gambler begins to feel they are more comfortable when gambling and inevitably the addiction will become more severe; the compulsive gambler uses their addiction as a method of escaping from the effects of their addiction.
Ultimately, the addiction brings the individual despair and humiliation and causes deterioration in almost all areas of their life. However this does not prevent the person from dreaming of a life filled with money, friends, an expensive car and house. In reality though, no amount of money will ever be enough as the individual has the irresistible urge to gamble any winnings they do ever make. Enormous amounts of debt are accumulated but there is the common delusion amongst compulsive gamblers that the next risk will be the one that wins them big money and will put everything right. When the gambler finally realises they have a problem, help is available but the addiction is usually severe by this time, as the individual will have done their best to hide it for so long. Depression, drinking and taking drugs often accompany compulsive gambling. Nevertheless, treatment is highly effective and sufferers can be restored back to normal functioning and happiness.
Signs of compulsive gambling
- Spending an excessive amount of time gambling
- Increasing the frequency of gambling
- Continuing to gamble despite negative outcomes
- Borrowing money to gamble
- Increasing the amount of money spent gambling
- Frequent mood swings
- Secretive behaviour
- Absence from work or family problems due to gambling
- The irresistible urge to gamble and take larger risks
Causes of compulsive gambling
Some research has suggested the cause of gambling addictions to be partly due to physical or hereditary predispositions, however this has never been proven. Many experts also believe a person's experiences and personality type play a large part in the addiction.
Treatment for compulsive gambling
The compulsive gambler must admit to their addiction before any treatment can be successful. Gamblers Anonymous is a self-help group available for addicts and Gam-Anon is a group available for family and friends of the addict. A counsellor may also be effective, which involves talking about and understanding the gambling urges and how to handle them. Treatment may also be required for depression or substance abuse if necessary.
What should I be looking for in a counsellor or psychotherapist?
Whilst there are currently no official rules and regulations in position to stipulate what level of training and experience a counsellor dealing with gambling addiction needs, we do recommend that you check your therapist is experienced in the area for which you are seeking help.
There are several accredited courses, qualifications and workshops available to counsellors that can improve their knowledge of a particular area, so for peace of mind you may wish to check to see if they have had further training in matters of addiction.
In regards to psychological treatment NHS Choices suggest cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) to be used as tool to break the habit of addiction.
Find out more on the NHS Choices website.
This is where you can submit feedback about the content of this page.
We review feedback on a monthly basis.
Please note we are unable to provide any personal advice via this feedback form. If you do require further information or advice, please visit the homepage & use the search function to contact a professional directly.
All content displayed on Counselling Directory is provided for general information purposes only, and should not be treated as a substitute for advice given by your GP or any other healthcare professional.
Whilst we endeavor to ensure all information is accurate, Counselling Directory make no representations or warranties of any kind, whether express or implied, as to the accuracy of the information included within the website. Any dependence you place on such information is therefore strictly at your own risk.
- Gambling cravings are key to tackling gambling addiction
- A Client's View of Gambling Addiction Counselling
- The Illusion Behind Addictive Behaviour
- Working with Addictions using Process-Oriented Psychology
- Feeding your Demons
- When Gambling becomes a problem
- A study in gambling - Karl and Stella from Corrie
- Drowning in a sea of flashing lights and spinning wheels
I found life very difficult to cope with just over a year ago; past family and childhood issues that I...
I suffered from depression, though I hid it quite well for some time. It soon lead to self abuse (mostly...
I have been in therapy for 12 years working through the physical, emotional and sexual abuse I...
Music and art therapies are quickly becoming the norm alongside medicalised...
Changes to the law mean that people can purchase over the counter HIV tests to use at home - but no kits exist yet in...
New research highlights that young men with an eating...