Gambling Addiction & Getting Help

Many individuals have a problem with gambling and need help, not realising that they are suffering from a recognised condition and addiction.

When gambling becomes compulsive, it used to be clinically referred to as Pathological gambling. The American Psychiatric Association classes it as an impulse control disorder.

Further research has now lead scientists and mental health professionals to reclassify compulsive gambling as a behavioural addiction.

Close links have been established between gambling addiction and substance addiction, in that the brain is compelled to seek out behaviours or substances that activate the brain’s pleasure/reward system.

Accessing help for a gambling problem or addiction is now more recognised in the UK. For someone with a severe gambling problem that is out of control, professional gambling addiction treatment is recommended.

PCP rehab clinics specialise in treating behavioural addictions, including gambling addiction. We have CQC registered gambling rehab clinics located in London, Midlands, Essex, Bedfordshire and Cardiff, Wales.

What Is Compulsive Gambling and Gambling Addiction?

Compulsive gambling, also known as gambling addiction, is where there is an overwhelming need to gamble. It doesn’t matter how much the individual has won or lost, if it has affected their work, personal relationships or finances, they will have no control over this particular area of their life.

Gambling addiction and Compulsive gambling are both recognised as a “chronic relapsing brain disease”

This illness often carries severe financial consequences to the individual that impacts heavily on their loved ones and family.

Gambling Addiction and the Brain’s Chemistry

When a gambling problem becomes a full-fledged addiction, the person affected will have little or no willpower when it comes to resisting the impulse to gamble.

Substantial damage is caused to the brains chemistry, through repeated exposure to gambling and triggering the brain’s pleasure/reward system. This will result in a mental obsession and compulsion beyond their control.

To others, gambling addiction may seem obsessive and deeply selfish. The addiction makes no sense. As a gambling addicts debts pile higher and anxiety levels rise, the obvious answer is for them to stop.

This is the baffling feature of gambling addiction – regardless of the stakes involved (and we don’t just mean financially), the gambling addict will continue to pursue the win.

Heartbreakingly, they have little choice in the matter, gambling is a recognised chronic and progressive brain chemistry disease.

Scientists, addiction professionals and mental health experts all agree that compulsive and severe problem gambling is an addiction, created through structural changes to the brain’s chemistry and neural pathways.

There is no one reason why one individual becomes addicted to gambling and others don’t, but there can be contributing factors that put the individual at higher risk.

Is Problem Gambling a Mental Health illness?

Any addiction, whether behavioural or alcohol and drug-related, is a mental health illness. Residing in the sufferers in the brain, it manifests in dysfunctional thought processes and compulsions – subsequent actions are gravely affected.

The good news is that gambling addiction responds to many of the therapies that successfully treat other mental health illnesses, such as Addiction, Depression, PTSD, Generalised Anxiety Disorder and OCD.

betting slip

The Risks of Gambling Addiction

Just because gambling does not involve a chemical substance, makes it no less dangerous than a drug or alcohol addiction.

If you have a gambling addiction, there are high risks involved:

  • Financial debt
  • Anxiety
  • Panic attacks
  • Relationship breakdowns
  • Job loss
  • Depression
  • Suicidal Ideation
  • Taking your own life as you see this as the only way out.

Don’t gamble with your life, seek help now.

Why Can’t a Gambling Addict Just Stop?

The answer to this is simple in terms of addiction. It is not just the substance or the activity that the individual gets pleasure from, but the anticipation and rituals that are associated with it.

A gambling addict will always be convinced that the solution to their troubles is a big win and that it could happen at any time!

The brain’s reward chemicals in a gambling addict that wins, is very similar to a gambling addict that has a near miss. This means that the anticipation of a win creates similar chemical changes in the brain as an actual win.

How Common is Gambling Addiction in the UK?

Gambling addiction and problem gambling have become increasingly more common in the UK and on a global level. This is mainly due to the introduction of internet gambling increasing its availability. No matter what time of day or night, you can gamble from the comfort of your own home.

This is bad news for those that have an addiction; it also exposes more individuals who are at higher risk of developing an addiction.

Thankfully, gambling addiction can be successfully treated. For some, this may require inpatient rehab treatment.

“Problem gambling may affect up to 593,000 people in the UK. The condition can be treated by talking therapies, such as cognitive behavioural therapy”

Teenagers and Gambling

Gambling is now more accessible to teenagers, with more gambling opportunities available online, they are able to lie about their age and access credit or debit cards that don’t belong to them.

Teenage brains are very different from an adults brain and are at a crucial developmental stage. This is when most individuals are likely to take bigger risks as part of an experimental phase.

Teenagers have a reduced concept of responsibility and consequences and so feel they have less to lose. Being exposed to substances or risky behaviours at this young and impressionable age can often lead to addiction.

Studies have also shown that those born to gambling addicts are also more likely to develop an addiction to gambling, this could be partly due to genetics and partly due to exposure.

The Effects of Gambling Addiction on the Brain and Withdrawal

When engaging in a gamble, a gambling addicts brain will trigger chemicals that produce the following effects :

  • Excitement
  • Anticipation
  • Euphoria
  • Elation
  • Temporary Gratification

These effects peak just before the win or loss takes place – when the gamble is at its most intense and risky.

If a gambling addict is prevented from gambling, they will have to fight intense cravings, restlessness, irritability, anxiety and depression that occur during withdrawal.

Help and Treatment For Problem Gambling and Gambling Addiction

Gambling addiction and problem gambling have been proven to be responsive to the same therapeutic treatments methods applied to substance and behavioural addictions.

Our treatment programmes use the following evidence-based treatments to treat problem gambling:

  • CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy)
  • Counselling
  • Individual therapy
  • Group therapy
  • 12 Step therapy
  • Holistic therapies, including Yoga, meditation, art therapy and equine therapy
  • Relapse prevention techniques
  • Educational interactive groups
  • Recreational therapies
  • Free Aftercare

If you or a loved one need help for a gambling problem, please call us now for a free telephone assessment of your individual treatment needs.

UK Rehabs for Gambling Addiction

For some, the impulse to control their own gambling is too much. Even if they are attending support groups such as gamblers anonymous or GamCare, they find that they cannot stop gambling due to the temptation and compulsion.

By attending the PCP gambling addiction treatment programme, we can help take away the daily temptation to gamble. We provide highly effective, secure, inpatient gambling addiction treatment, within our affordable and exemplary rehabs.

If you need rehab for gambling addiction, we can help you today with an immediate admission.