Throughout this informative blog post, we will attempt to provide readers with an overview of some of the options out there for battling addiction, including the organisation Gambling Therapy, which aims to help problem gamblers. We hope you will find the info below helpful for you or perhaps a friend or relative who might be going through the painful process of gambling addiction.
What is Gambling Addiction and How it Is Different?
Problem with excess gambling can happen to anyone regardless of age or social status. Sometimes gambling quickly crosses the line from being fun and harmless to an unhealthy obsession with serious consequences. Addiction can appear regardless of the form of gambling one is invested in – whether that is scratch cards, poker, slots, roulette, or others. This can cause problems at home or work and even lead to behaviours, uncharacteristic for someone, such as stealing and running up huge debts.
0.5% of the UK adult population consists of problem gamblers. Men tend to have a higher tendency to become addicted and start gambling at an earlier age than women. However, women appear to progress to problematic gambling faster than men.
Pathological gambling is a type of impulse-control disorder, often characterised by significant impairment in social and occupational functioning, legal and financial difficulties. Of course, one can have a gambling problem without being totally out of control. This is why it is of utmost importance that this issue is caught in the early stages and the person is given access to accurate treatment. Organisations such as GamCare provide such support for UK players.
Other disorders from this type include kleptomania, pyromania, compulsive buying, compulsive sexual behaviour and others. Excess gambling is not that different in terms of the psychological process that cause it, but unlike some of the others, it can lead to severe financial problems and massive debt.
What Are the Causes of Gambling Addiction?
There is no one specific cause to be blamed for excess gambling. Both biological and environmental factors can influence its development. It has been discovered that there are significant similarities between substance abuse and problem gambling as they both activate the brain’s reward centres. The brain releases huge amounts of dopamine, providing a strong sense of satisfaction to gamblers.
People who suffer from addiction usually experience a deficiency of norepinephrine, which is responsible for feelings of arousal and thrill. Thus, the rush of gambling can supplement those biochemical needs. Furthermore, people who experience depression or have borderline personality traits are more prone to gambling addiction than others.
Warning Signs that Someone Might be Subject to Addiction
Pathological gambling can sometimes be referred to as a “hidden illness” due to the lack of obvious physical signs like those in drug or alcohol abuse. Another common characteristic is the denial and minimisation of the problem from the gamblers themselves. However, if you or someone you know is experiencing the following symptoms, it might be a good idea to look for help:
- Having Trouble Controlling Your Gambling
- Feeling the Need to Be Secretive About Your Gambling
- Gambling Even When You Do Not Have the Money
- Having Family or Friends Worried About You
- Using Gambling to Escape from Problems
- Borrowing Money from Others to Pay Out Debt from Gambling
- Persistent Thoughts about Gambling
If some or all those symptoms are familiar to you, then you need to look for help from trusted sources. One of them is the organisation Gamblers Anonymous which offers qualified help for problem gamblers. They have a hotline and host different gambling group therapy meetings. More information on who is behind the organisation and how to access them can be found in our dedicated blog post on Gamblers Anonymous.
Gambling Therapy Organisation
As we already mentioned several times throughout this post, responsible gambling is incredibly important as addiction can creep up on you without you realising it and have detrimental effects. So, try to gamble within some boundaries, both financial and timewise, that are relevant to you. The good news is that many of the top UK online casinos offer a variety of tools to prevent addiction as well as partnerships with responsible gambling organisations.
One of these organisations is called Gambling Therapy, which main aim is to provide support and help for gambling abuse. They use various therapy methods to help troubled gamblers out there. One of the programmes is a 12-week course of individual and group therapy combined with the benefits of living as part of a therapeutic community. Residents are supported to adopt new coping skills that help them attain recovery and integrate back into the world without gamble. In the table below, you can find information regarding the methods to get in touch with Gambling Therapy.
|💻 Official website||www.gamblingtherapy.org|
|☎️ Phone Number||No|
|🕑 Working Hours||24/7|
|💬 Live Chat||Yes|
|📍 Address||43-47 Maughan St, Dudley DY1 2BA|
|👪 Forums, Chat rooms, Support Groups||Yes|
Furthermore, there is also a service, designed specifically for women problem gamblers. It consists of 12 weeks filled with therapeutic group workshops, which aim to bring together a positive and supportive network of women, who will battle this condition side by side. They also offer online support for clients and encourage friends and family to get involved in the process of recovery as well. In the next few paragraphs, we will give an in-depth overview of some of the psychological methods used in this organisation as a way to tackle addiction.
The Use of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy as a Treatment
One of the most commonly used methods for tackling addiction used in the organisation Gambling Therapy is through cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). Due to the presence of cognitive distortions (faulty thinking), impulsiveness, and poor decision-making in pathological gamblers, one of the most successful types of therapy for gambling addiction is, in fact, CBT.
Cognitive distortions are thoughts and beliefs that are not based on facts. For instance, a gambler might believe that wearing a lucky charm would increase his odds of winning at slots.
Logically, wearing any lucky items does not influence the outcome of the client’s play, but believing that it could cause the person to gamble beyond their intended limit.
Research has shown that CBT reduces gambling by helping the person identify the thoughts, attitudes, and beliefs that lead to gambling. Different strategies can then be developed to help clients change their thought processes and decision-making. CBT teaches clients proven strategies and skills to identify and change problematic thoughts and behavioural patterns. Research also showed that CBT is effective for problem gambling in diverse populations, offering equal chances of recovery regardless of the person’s age, gender, ethnicity, or psychiatric comorbidity.
Mindfulness-Enhanced CBT for Problem Gambling
Mindfulness meditation has been proven to be a promising approach to battling a variety of medical and psychiatric conditions, especially depression and eating disorders. The idea that a person is in control of his thoughts and feelings and thus can manage any addiction or mental health issue from within is incredibly popular in the psychology circles over the past couple of years.
In 2014, the first-ever study on mindfulness therapy for problem gambling was conducted. In that study, a group, five-session, mindfulness intervention was integrated into an empirically effective CBT for problem gamblers. Compared to the control group, the mindfulness intervention significantly reduced the severity of gambling, gambling urges and psychiatric symptoms at the end of the treatment. Those results were maintained even after a 3-month follow-up with the participants.
How Virtual Reality is Used As a Tool in CBT
A modern approach to the classic CBT is using virtual reality (VR) devices as assistance in gambling addiction therapy. This can provide emotionally charged context, which induces cravings and patients can practice CBT techniques they have learned, in the safety of the therapist’s office. Three studies have been conducted in 2017 to test this theory. Study 1 reveals that immersions in VR can elicit desire and positive anticipation to gamble in problem gamblers.
Study 2 documents the feasibility of integrating VR in CBT, its usefulness in identifying more high-risk situations and dysfunctional thoughts, how inducing cravings during relapse prevention exercises significantly relates to treatment outcome. Results from Study 3 confirm that, compared to inducing urges to gamble in imagination, using VR does not lead to urges that are stronger, last longer, or feel more out of control.
This is an interesting and innovative way of battling addiction that deserves attention. So, if you are using the services of Gambling Therapy, you can ask whether they can include virtual reality in your CBT.
Group Counselling As a Method of Gambling Therapy
Gambling Therapy also provides group sessions for its clients as a way to battle excess gambling. CBT can be effective not only in an in-person, one-on-one format but also when delivered in group settings or through self-directed online programs with minimal therapist support. Group counselling offers clients several therapeutic benefits and is used widely to provide general emotional support for participants to overcome specific personal difficulties in their lives. Group counselling has also been used to assist individuals in overcoming difficulties associated with pathological gambling.
Problem gambling group therapy is commonly used to tackle addiction. Gamblers often form self-help groups where they feel safe to share what they are going through as they know everyone else there is fighting the same battle. Gamblers Anonymous, which we mentioned earlier in this post, is one of the sources of such type of support. Numerous other healthcare professionals and organisations use this method as a therapeutic weapon against addiction. The support system needed by an individual to tackle any sort of mental health issue and to prevent relapse is found in such self-help groups, so they are always one of the best options out there.
Using Self Help to Tackle Pathological Gambling
Gambling Therapy has always aimed to develop education and prevention strategies to help increase gamblers’ awareness about the risks associated with excess gambling. They have devised a self-assessment tool, which gives you the chance to find out how much you know about gambling and determine whether you might have a gambling problem. The questions in this tool are the following:
- Do you spend too much money and/or time gambling?
- Have you gambled away money needed to pay household bills?
- Have you risked or lost a relationship because of your gambling?
- Have you risked or lost your home or job because of your gambling?
- Do you struggle to sleep because of your problems with gambling?
- Do you gamble to try to win back losses?
- Do you lie about how much you gamble?
If you answer yes to three or more of these questions and you feel that you need help, feel free to contact the live support of Gambling Therapy, which is available 24/7. Furthermore, they have provided some exercises to help you gain control of your gambling behaviour. Some of them include keeping a gambling diary, making a pros and cons list regarding gambling beliefs, improving your problem-solving skills and dealing with the urge to gamble. All of the materials can be accessed from the Self Help section of their website.
Other Interesting Therapies for Treating Excess Gambling
Apart from CBT and group therapy, which are the most popular methods for battling gambling addiction, there are other rather curies psychological approaches worth mentioning. In the following two paragraphs, we will take a brief look at some of the not so popular, but still helpful therapy methods you can access in the UK.
Congruence Couple Therapy for Pathological Gambling
Another approach to gambling therapy in the UK is through couple therapy models. One of which is the Congruence Couple Therapy. It is an integrative and humanistic model that addresses intrapsychic, interpersonal, and universal–spiritual disconnections of pathological gamblers and their spouses to shift towards congruence. Pathological gambling adversely affects not only the gambler but also their spouses.
The impetus for the development of Congruence Couple Therapy (CCT) arose out of the need to address the roots of pathological gambling and the distress of both pathological gamblers and their spouses. That distress has usually been around even before the problems with gambling began. This makes pathological gambling a “cry for help” rather than the primary source. CCT aims to open a reservoir of psychological resources for the patient and his/her significant relationships.
Congruence Couple Therapy is structured as 12 one-hour weekly sessions. These 12-session blocks consist of a compact set of interventions and provide a point of evaluation at which time further sessions can be negotiated as necessary. It is a fascinating approach as problem gambling is dealt with within the context of the gambler’s broader and deeper life concerns.
Using Music Therapy to Battle Gambling Addiction
A rather fascinating study on using music and painting as gambling addiction therapy was conducted in 2003. This treatment is suitable for impulsive gamblers, who have problems with commitment. The participants used in this experiment were 27 Finish gamblers with an age range from 25 to 66 years. Any participants that had more than one addiction were deselected from the study. The treatment programme consisted of four sequential phases that lasted about one year.
The methods included physio-acoustic treatment with music listening, individual verbal interviews, group discussions and cultural activities. The number of participants engaged in gambling activities decreased during the treatment phase. Qualitative analysis revealed that the role of music was important in dealing with the strong emotions linked with the problem as well as describing the traumatic aspects of gambling by the symbolic means (images, paintings, stories etc.) stimulated by music. Music also tended to stimulate and deepen the discussion in some sessions where discussion seemed to be trifling or troublesome.
Now let us look at some of the most frequently asked questions regarding therapy for gambling addiction. We hope you will find the answers we have provided helpful and will seek help if you experience any symptoms connected with addiction.