Why gambling rehab treatment is important

It can be difficult to recognise the signs of gambling addiction

 As with the effects of any addiction, there will be changes in a person such as rapid mood swings, isolation, depression, missing work by going off sick and detrimental effects on those close to us.  Gambling is very much a “secret” addiction as it is harder to detect than other addictions. It is easier to detect if someone is continually getting drunk, out of it on drugs or underweight, but unless there is a joint bank account, a gambling addiction is difficult to spot. It can also be quite a shock when the person with the gambling addiction declares their problem to family or a close friend (and often by this point they will be very heavily in debt).  The response from those we tell is also usually the same as any other addiction, it is usually “well just stop.”

Gambling addiction is hard to understand

There is becoming more of an understanding around addiction in general but there is less of an understanding around a gambling addiction and what help there is available for anyone.  Within a home environment, it is almost impossible for anyone with a gambling addiction to successfully stop for a long period of time and, as with any addiction, there needs to be a realisation that as with ‘just one drink,” we can’t have just one more bet. It needs to be complete abstinence. 

Why do problem gamblers need to go to addiction rehab?

no gamble street

There needs to be a break in the addictive cycle within a safe environment. Thus the prime option would be a private residential rehab or addiction clinic specialising in gambling rehabilitation. 99.9% of all clinics in the UK use the 12 Step programme, originally designed as the foundation of Alcoholics Anonymous.  Due to its success, the 12 Step Programme has been incorporated by addiction organisations and their fellowship / support groups, to help those with other addictions. For example, the support group for a gambler is Gamblers Anonymous and this was founded back in 1957. There is only one word that needs to be changed in all of the 12 Steps.  Step one says, “We admitted we were powerless over alcohol – that our lives had become unmanageable.” All we need to do is change the one-word alcohol to gambling and all the rest of the Steps and their wording are totally relevant.

At The Haynes Clinic, anyone with a gambling addiction has two options if wanting to be admitted for residential addiction treatment.  The first option is to have a telephone or face to face clinical assessment at the clinic; the second is to simply book a date to come in.  The recognised treatment period is for 28 days but it is possible to be admitted for 2 or 3 weeks, if there are issues with funding or getting time off work. 

Gambling rehab is confidential

On the pre-arranged day of arrival, you may be seen by the clinic or rehab’s doctor as they will want to do a medical assessment. For the time that you are in treatment you will be under their care. If you are on any prescribed medication, such as anti-depressants, then that medication should be brought in with you in its original packaging and with your name and the prescribed dosage written on it.  An important point, as your care will be under the clinic’s doctor, all the doctor’s notes and any notes written by the therapy team are kept at the clinic and are confidential and not shared with your own GP unless requested.  This can be very beneficial as the fact that you have been in for residential treatment for an addiction will not be shown in future medical records.

The importance of talking therapy in getting help for gambling addiction

Obviously, there is no prescribed medication to help with stopping gambling, but the importance is being in a safe environment with qualified professionals.  As with any addiction it is not just the stopping but understanding how to stay stopped that is so critical.  A daily structured treatment programme, comprising of therapy groups, lectures and workshops with written work around our understanding of the Steps is critical to remaining well after leaving treatment.  The ability to now be open and honest with the therapists and other members of the group and to openly share our thoughts and feelings are all part of the recovery process. 

What to do after gambling addiction treatment

During treatment, you will also be introduced to support groups that can now be attended in person (during Covid there were only online meetings). By attending with other people in treatment it also helps remove the fear of attending a meeting on our own, once we go home after treatment. Also, we will further understand how the meetings work. We also get help for our addiction from workshops that form part of our treatment programme.

Are phones banned in a gambling addiction treatment centre?

Some clinics or rehabs ban all mobile phones and laptops whilst people are in treatment, but at The Haynes Clinic, mobile phones are only taken away for the first week.  A suggestion for someone with a gambling addiction would be to change their phone number and personal email address so that they are not going to receive any marketing or promotional offers from gambling websites and a new mobile phone would also be free of any gambling aps. During treatment, your use of your mobile phone will be carefully monitored to ensure you do not use it for any gambling activities. It may be that you will want to be without it for more than a week if you feel you might be tempted. If you were to gamble while in treatment, you could be discharged.

Is it necessary to stop drinking if you have a gambling addiction?

Any gambler wanting to change their addictive thinking and behaviour should also consider reviewing their alcohol consumption.  It is very easy to cross addict from gambling to alcohol but more importantly when drinking alcohol our inhibitions are lowered and this could be a cause of relapsing and taking that “one more bet.”

Do I get aftercare following my gambling addiction treatment?

Some clinics – and The Haynes Clinic is an example – offer Aftercare following on from when people have left after a 28 day residential addiction treatment period.  Aftercare takes place at Haynes one day a week and it acts as ongoing support and help, and the groups are all led by a qualified therapist.  If you do not live near to the clinic, then there is the opportunity to join Zoom meetings. Ongoing Aftercare is so important, and it is a free facility that can continue as long as it is needed (certainly for a year).  It gives the individual weekly the chance to discuss any issues or concerns with people they have already met and trust. Also, there should be at least weekly attendance at Gamblers Anonymous support groups.  It is easy enough to find a meeting: go on the Gamblers Anonymous website, input your postcode and it will list all details of the meetings within or close to your area.

Does gambling addiction rehab work?

There is very clear evidence of people stopping gambling after going in to residential gambling rehab treatment. One of the key factors, though, is the individual’s willingness to make changes in their life, by altering their thinking and behaviour with what they have learnt whilst there.