Why gamblers may need gambling rehab

Gambling addiction can be difficult to identify

It is very difficult for a family member or friend to identify a close individual they know with a gambling problem. The issue is that it is so difficult for others to detect – unlike a person with a drug problem or alcohol addiction. 

What is gambling addiction?

A gambling addiction is defined as a continuous urge to gamble. This is despite the constant negative impact on us through not winning, and even with the proven knowledge that the odds of winning are stacked against us. Nonetheless we continue to play. The cost of funding a gambling problem can quickly escalate to become a financial burden. 

Why is gambling addiction on the increase?

gamble street

The gambling companies and websites lure us in with their advertising, their offers of free spins and prize money. It is amazing that if you type in “Gambling websites” into Google there are even lists of the top 10 best online gambling sites. These state that they are the UK’s most brilliant gambling websites with up to £250 welcome bonus offers.  They even use the word “brilliant.” 

Gambling can also be encouraged by getting people to play free games and they find they are winning all the time.  They then switch to games where they are using real money and don’t realise that the odds have suddenly changed, and they are now losing all the time.

There is no question that gambling addiction has become more widespread. Technology has developed gaming on the internet to a massive degree. These days people only need a mobile phone and then have the ability, if they choose, to gamble all day every day without even leaving home. What can be critical, though, is recognizing a gambling problem at an early stage and asking for help to do something about it. If we do not, from a financial point of view we can end up with a mountain of debt and with nowhere to turn.  

One of the reasons we continue to gamble, even though we are losing, is the increase in dopamine to the brain and a rush of adrenaline.  However, this “rush” will decrease in time due to the brain compensating for the increase in Dopamine and we need to gamble more to just try to get a more pleasant feeling.  

What to look out for to identify a gambling addict

Some signs of problem gambling include:

  • We start to have erratic mood swings and depressive episodes that will become more noticeable to those around us, and they will struggle to find a reason for our constant change in moods.
  • We develop a total preoccupation with gambling and lose interest in hobbies and interaction with our partner and children
  • Problems develop within the workplace where we start to gamble when we should be working.  This could lead to an increased workload and tasks and deadlines are not met.  We are underperforming. We even start to take days off sick where we can carry on gambling at home.
  • There is a definite loss of control whereby we are unable to control impulsive urges to gamble, even when we know the odds of us winning are stacked against us.
  • We conceal the amount of money and time spent on gambling from family members and even steal money from family or friends
  • Possibly the worst thing we do in making the situation even more serous is to increase the amount that we are betting to recoup the money we have lost on bets – this is called chasing our losses.

Why go to gambling rehab?

There needs to be an intervention with our addictive behaviour and our addictive thinking and for it to be successful there is the need for us to be removed from our home environment.  This will then enable us to “break the addictive cycle” within a safe environment such as an Addictions Rehab or residential Addictions Clinic.  There is no detox medication to help with our obsessive thinking when we have stopped gambling, but being in a safe environment working with professional therapists on a daily basis and participating with a structured therapy programme does work.

The vast majority of residential addiction clinics within the UK will work on the same principles that are used for Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), Narcotics Anonymous (NA), Cocaine Anonymous (CA) and Overeaters Anonymous (OA), for those with any eating disorder.  These are the principles of the 12 Step Programme that originally set the foundation and workings of AA some 87 years ago and were then incorporated for other addictions. Gamblers also have their own support group: Gamblers Anonymous (GA).

At The Haynes Clinic it would be normal for a person with a gambling addiction to be admitted into residential addiction treatment for up to 28 days. Sometimes, people will be admitted for our minimum treatment period of 14 days, but this would be due to financial constraints or the difficulties of having time off work (though in reality work should not be more important than conquering a destructive addiction.

Not conquering an addiction is likely to lead to the loss of employment at some point).  At The Haynes Clinic we offer those that have been in residential rehab treatment for 28 days the opportunity to come back to the clinic once a week for up to 12 months for ongoing support called Aftercare.  Even for those living not close to the clinic we will provide Zoom support meetings.  This ongoing support is critical to an individual’s ongoing wellbeing and reduction in the possibly of relapsing into old behaviour.

During their time in treatment, individuals will be attending, as a group, 12 Step support groups. They will also have an understanding of what the 12 Step Programme means which will help and encourage everyone to attend their appropriate support group after they are discharged from treatment. All will be advised to look for 12 Step support groups in their local area which they are encouraged to attend weekly.

At The Haynes Clinic, we make a point of trying to help family members with their knowledge of addiction and the path forwards to Recovery and the “dos” and “don’ts” of how to behave when their loved ones are discharged from residential addiction treatment and return home.