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Gambling addiction can be just as devastating as chemical addictions when it comes to the consequences. In some cases, people can lose their cars, their homes, their families, and even their lives after losing everything.

What starts out small and rather innocent can easily spiral out of control when a gambling addict fails to adhere to their own self imposed limits. With an infinite bankroll, anyone could win back enough to break even at least–but who has an infinite bankroll? Unfortunately, many problem gamblers learn this lesson the hard way–over and over again. They might claw their way back to financial stability after losing everything, but turn around and then risk it all again on another gambling spree. This is how the gambling addict lives their life–until they end it all out of desperation or get the help that they finally need to stop for good.

What are the characteristics that define addiction?

There are many different gambling addiction signs that either family or friends can look out for.

Here are some examples to help you:

  • Gambling or betting even when you don’t have much money left and you are facing bills to pay at home.
  • Gambling or betting more than what you had initially planned on wagering when you started.
  • Not telling others about your gambling or betting.
  • If friends, family, or loved ones think you should stop gambling or are showing concern about it.

Basically, if it is not a problem then it is not a problem. Gambling addiction is defined by the negative consequences that gambling has on a person’s life. If they are sacrificing time, money, and energy on their obsession then that is not a healthy behavior for them.

The Difference between Addiction and Problem Gambling

Really the only difference between these two terms is the severity of the consequences that a person has experienced. For example, if a person has gambled away their car and their house, we would probably label that as a gambling addiction and probably need to get some gambling addiction help rather than a mere gambling problem. In fact, most medical organizations do not recognize gambling as a technical addiction, but rather as an impulse control issue. Regardless of these terms, people who suffer negative effects from gambling can easily be referred to as either problem gamblers or gambling addicts–it really makes no difference. The labels do nothing to mask the problem. For the most part, the two terms can be used interchangeably for casual discussion.

About Treatment

There basically only 2 real forms of treatment that are available to treat problem gambling. One is counseling based and the other is group therapy. Both involve the problem gambler to make a firm decision to seek help for themselves.

There have been alot of different gambling addiction myths put out by the media and internet which are not true, they may try to deter you from getting the help you need.

Therapy based rehab treatment help can take a variety of approaches based on different therapy models. Some of these work better than others for various people, and no single therapy or strategy has proven to be the most effective. For example, one therapist might employ cognitive-behavioral therapy techniques and teach the problem gambler how to use mental strategies to overcome their obsession.

Group therapy can also be used to help problem gamblers, and one such form of that is Gamblers Anonymous, patterned after the other 12 step help groups. While there are currently no medications that are approved to treat gambling addiction directly, there have been some clinical trials with various antidepressants that do show some promise.

So there are various treatments available and the individual will probably have to experiment a bit and reach out to ask for help in order to find what will ultimately work for them in the end.

The most important part of this process is the initial act of surrender so that the gambling addict can get started on the recovery process. Without admitting that they have a problem, it is impossible for them to accept help for the problem and start to change their life in any way.

Recover using these Strategies

There are a whole host of strategies for helping the problem gambler to avoid a relapse. One of the big strategies is to limit the money that the problem gambler has access to by using a trusted intermediary. For example, the problem gambler might only carry a small amount of cash on his person, while turning over their credit cards and bank accounts to a trusted family member. If they do not have access to their own money then they cannot gamble it away.

Of course strategies like this rarely work, because ultimately we still have access to our own money in some way. Perhaps a better strategy is to use a proactive approach in terms of creating the life of excitement that the gambling addict is seeking to begin with. Whatever rush they are seeking through gambling can be found through other means. It is up to the individual to take a proactive approach and push themselves to create the kind of excitement in their life that can sustain their happiness, without resorting to gambling.

There are many different gambling addiction statistics which prove that there is help out there and recovery from gambling is possible.

In other words, relapse prevention for gambling is done through positive action and personal growth, not through the avoidance of negative triggers and a set of rules about how to avoid trigger situations. Thus, recovery becomes a positive journey, rather than a negative state where the problem gambler is depriving themselves.


Rehab International is a service provided by Foundations Recovery Network. As part of the Foundations Recovery Network, our goal is to provide science-based treatments to individuals suffering from issues of addiction and mental illness.

When you call you will be connected to a member of the Foundations Recovery Network who will assist in providing you with any questions you may have regarding the treatment process.

The treatment directory on Rehab International is created using resources made available in the public domain. If you would like a listing removed or edited please contact us. If you are trying to reach a resource listing on one of the pages, please contact them directly through their website or contact information provided.

JCAHO The Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO) is the national evaluation and certifying agency for health care organization and programs in the United States. JCAHO strives to improve health care for the public. FRN is proud to be affiliated with several JCAHO accredited facilities.

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