Gambling Addiction Treatment

From poker to sports betting, gambling is a part of everyday American life. According to some estimates, more than 85% of Americans have gambled. Yet, only 1 to 2% of them will develop a problem. What is gambling addiction? Is it a real disorder, and does it require actual treatment? The answers may be more complicated than you think.

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What is Gambling Addiction?

Gambling addiction is defined as continually engaging in gambling behaviors even when it is harming your life. Yet, it’s more than just willpower at play. True gambling addiction causes changes in the brain’s chemistry that override the logical part of the brain. In fact, gambling is the only behavioral addiction listed as a diagnosis in the American Psychological Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual. Ignoring the call to gamble — despite the consequences — is almost impossible.

Signs of Gambling Addiction

Like all addictions, gambling addiction involves obsession and compulsion. Caught in its throes, you can’t stop thinking about gambling and getting your next “fix.” The compulsion comes in when you continue to pursue gambling even when you don’t want to or know you shouldn’t. Those with gambling addiction also may find themselves gambling much more than they intend. In short, if you have said you would quit gambling or tried to quit gambling but were unsuccessful, you may be addicted to gambling.

Dangers of Gambling Addiction

No one ever overdosed from gambling, but the results can be just as dangerous. The most obvious impact is on your bank account: During a gambling addiction, debts pile up, payments are missed, and essential purchases are pushed aside. Gambling addicts may engage in risky behaviors like prostitution, theft, or selling drugs to get their next fix. Others may put themselves at risk by racking up debts with shady characters that aren’t afraid to use physical force to collect what they are owed. 

Gambling addiction isn’t any less dangerous or crippling just because it doesn’t involve drugs. Everyone deserves to live free from the obsession and compulsion that is addiction, and recovery is possible for anyone.

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What’s a Process Addiction?

Many people actually find themselves in the throes of gambling addiction after conquering an addiction to drugs or alcohol. That is because gambling is a “process addiction,” or an addiction to a particular behavior. Other types of process addictions include shopping addiction, gaming addiction, workaholism, binge eating, exercise addiction, sex and love addiction, and internet or social media addiction. Each of these behaviors is united by the fact that the action releases dopamine in the brain — an approximation of the high that drugs and alcohol can provide. 

Process addictions can fall into place when someone quits drugs and alcohol without working on the underlying causes of their substance abuse. The emotional wounds or mental health challenges are still there in sobriety, so they must turn to new behaviors in the hopes of self-medicating. Once there, though, the results are much the same: The brain develops a tolerance to the dopamine released by these behaviors and requires more and more to achieve the same result. It’s a vicious, never-ending cycle.In fact, one study found that 34% of adults with a gambling addiction also suffered from PTSD. You must heal from the inside out to find true freedom.


Get Help for Gambling Addiction

Freedom is possible whether gambling is your first addiction or a process addiction picked up in recovery. Let new hope take flight at Owl’s Nest Recovery. Our peaceful, secluded campus in the heart of Florence, SC, will give you the time and space to heal once and for all. Mind-body wellness activities like daily yoga complement powerful evidence-based modalities like group therapy, one-on-one counseling, and CBT to create new balance and stability. Live free of obsession and compulsion. Live life in recovery at Owl’s Nest.