What is Gambling Therapy?
For most recreational gamblers, placing a bet here or there while visiting a local casino, or while watching sports in the living room of a friend’s house or local bar isn’t really a problem. For others, these small bets can quickly spiral out of control and begin to consume all of the other things they care about. Gambling starts as a fun way to relax and unwind and quickly becomes so problematic that help is often necessary to alleviate the troubling nature of the condition.
Gambling addiction is a type of impulse control disorder. Those who have a problem – or compulsive gamblers – often can’t control the impulses that require them to gamble. This leads to financial problems, health concerns, strain on familial and intimate relationships and work-related concerns. Gambling is all they can think about, and whether they are up or down, they can’t wait to place that next “sure thing” bet.
Gambling therapy helps compulsive gamblers to return to a sense of normalcy after battling with this sort of addictive behavior. While there are many myths and falsehoods, such as:
- Problem gamblers gamble every day.
- It’s not a problem if you can afford the losses.
- Gamblers spend every dime gambling.
… none of these are 100% accurate. The truth is, each problem gambler is different, and gambling is a problem if it creates problems in the addicts life.
With help, problem gambling is a disorder that’s treatable, and many go on to live normal and healthy lives. The key is understanding that one bet, no matter what the size, can quickly spiral into full-blown problematic gambling again.
What Methods are Used in Gambling Therapy?
The key to treating gambling addicts is behavioral modification. Gamblers experiences rushes or highs from the behavior much like a drug or alcohol addict does by consuming substances. These highs are often short lived, and it leads the addict to chase bigger and better highs by placing more bets, and often bets of higher value.
Treating the disorder is about recognizing the triggers that make the addict want to gamble. Once the triggers are recognized, it’s all about therapy and abstaining from behavior that could lead them back into placing wagers. Through the help of a qualified therapist, gamblers recognize the problematic nature of even placing small bets, while creating a plan for their long term recovery.
It’s a mistake to assume that correcting problematic gambling behavior is as simple as staying out of the casino, or not placing wagers. This – just like substance abuse – is an addiction, and it must be treated as such. The affected are individuals with a disease, and the only treatment options come through long term therapy and behavioral modification.
Why Hire a Therapist?
Since this is a disease – much like drug or alcohol abuse – it would be a mistake to think that you or your family could fix problems of such a complex magnitude on your own. Professional outside help is almost assuredly the best course of action in ensuring that you or your loved one remains free from the grips of addiction not only in the now, but several years – and ideally the whole life – from now.
Finding a therapist that specializes in addiction and/or behavioral modification is in your best interest, as only they are qualified to understand what makes addicts tick, and how to correct behavior that got them there in the first place.
What to Look for When Finding a Therapist
When searching for a therapist, it’s important to seek out the right kind of help. A general psychiatrist or therapist – while helpful – isn’t often the answer you’re looking for. Therapists that specialize in addiction (of any sort), behavioral modification, or specifically gambling-related addiction is the best person for the job. Due to the similarities between different kind of addictions, a substance abuse specialist is often qualified to treat this kind of addiction as well. Find a therapist you’re comfortable with, and work with him or her to create a long term treatment plan to get you or your loved one back on the right track.