Why is gambling addiction not treated seriously
What is gambling addiction?
Most of the time, playing in moderation is socially acceptable behavior. Gambling addiction is a different story. If left untreated, gambling addiction can negatively affect your financial situation, relationships, and other aspects of your life.
Problem gambling affects more than 2 percent of Americans, according to the National Council on Problem Gambling. When you have a gambling addiction, you may experience an uncontrollable urge to buy lottery tickets, visit casinos, play slot machines, bet on sports, or play online. The specific nature and frequency of your gambling behavior may vary. But in general you will not be able to control this behavior. You will continue to gamble, even in the face of negative social, financial, or legal consequences.
The majority of people with gambling addiction are men. But women can also be affected by this type of addiction.
What are the symptoms of gambling addiction?
People with a gambling addiction often try to hide their condition, but gambling addiction can be difficult to hide. You may need frequent access to casinos or online gambling pools. Even if you play at home when no one is around, your addiction can show up in other areas of your life.
If you have a gambling addiction, you may experience some or all of the following behaviors:
- Obsession with all types of gambling
- Gambling to feel better about yourself
- Cannot control your gambling
- Avoidance of work or other gambling obligations
- Neglecting bills and expenses and using the money for gambling
- Sale of land for gambling
- Steal money to play with
- Lies about your gaming habits
- Feelings of guilt after a gaming session
- take increasingly greater risks when gambling
You can also experience the following consequences from your gambling addiction:
- relationships or friendships breaking up
- Loss of home, work, car, or other personal belongings
People with a gambling addiction don't always gamble often. But once they start playing, they may not be able to stop.
What causes gambling addiction?
When you have a gambling addiction, an area of your brain called an insula may be overactive. This hyperactive region can lead to distorted thinking. This can lead you to see patterns in random order and keep playing after near misses.
Your brain can respond to the act of gambling in the same way that an alcoholic's brain can respond to a drink. The more you feed your habit, the worse it will get.
How is gambling addiction treated?
With the right treatment, gambling addiction is manageable. Unlike someone with a food addiction, you don't need the object of your addiction to survive. You just have to learn how to develop a healthy and balanced relationship with money.
It is important that you stop gambling altogether as even the occasional gambling can lead to relapse. A recovery program can help you develop impulse control. In general, gambling addiction is treated using methods similar to other addictions.
Inpatient rehabilitation program
Although not often required, some people find that they need the structure of an inpatient treatment center program to help overcome gambling addiction. This type of program can be especially helpful when you are unable to avoid casinos or other gambling venues without assistance. You must be at the treatment facility for a specified period of time, from 30 days to a full year.
Outpatient rehabilitation program
Outpatient treatment programs are more likely to be used by people with gambling addiction. In this type of program, you take courses in an institution. You can also attend group sessions and individual therapies. You will continue to live at home and participate in school, work, or other daily activities.
Gamblers Anonymous (GA), or other 12-step programs, can also help you overcome your gambling addiction. This type of program can be especially helpful when you cannot afford more intense rehabilitation options. It follows the same model as Alcoholics Anonymous in helping you build a support network from other recovering gambling addicts. You can meet with group members one or more times a week.
Psychotherapy or cognitive behavioral therapy
In addition to group counseling or support talks, you can also benefit from individual therapy. Gambling addiction can arise from deeper emotional or avoidance problems. You need to grapple with these underlying issues in order to change self-destructive patterns, including your gambling addiction. The counseling gives you a place to open up and address these issues.
In some cases, you may need medication to help overcome your playful instinct. Your gambling addiction may be the result of an underlying mental illness, such as bipolar disorder. In these cases, you need to learn how to deal with the underlying condition in order to develop better impulse control.
Dealing with the financial consequences of gambling is sometimes the hardest part of the recovery process. In the beginning, you may need to hand the financial responsibility over to a spouse or trusted friend. You may also need to avoid places and situations that can trigger your urge to gamble, such as casinos or sporting events.
What support resources are available?
If you suspect that you or someone you love may be addicted to gambling, speak to your doctor or psychologist. They can help you find the information and assistance you need. Several organizations also provide information on gambling addiction and treatment options. They can help direct you to local or online support services.
What is the outlook for gambling addiction?
Like any addiction, gambling addiction can be difficult to quit. You may be embarrassed to admit that you have a problem, especially since many people gamble socially without developing an addiction. Overcoming the shame or embarrassment you feel will be a huge step on the road to recovery.
A recovery program, one-on-one counseling, medication, and lifestyle changes can all help you overcome your gambling addiction. If you don't treat your gambling problem, it can lead to serious financial problems. It can also negatively affect your relationships with family members, friends, and others. Effective treatment can help you avoid these consequences and heal your relationships through recovery.
You may return to gambling even after treatment, especially if you spend time with people who are gambling or in a gaming environment. If you feel like you are about to start gambling again, contact your psychiatrist or sponsor right away to prevent relapse.
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