It’s not just substances that can cause addictive behaviour. Gambling is one activity that can become an addiction by essentially the same mechanism as drugs such as cocaine, and the problem is virtually identical for the purposes of gambling counselling. Like people addicted to drugs, those suffering from a gambling addiction have built up a connection between reward and a potentially damaging habit, and this has to be tackled through counselling. Gambling addicts can place themselves in financial turmoil, neglect their work and ignore their families because of their issues. Finding out about the difference between ordinary gambling and problem gambling helps you determine if you or your loved one could benefit from therapy at our luton counselling rooms..
What’s the Difference Between Gambling, Addiction and Problem Gambling?
Most people can gamble in moderation without any negative consequences. A casual gambler can set spending limits, and primarily partakes in the activity for fun. If you or your loved one is gambling frequently, to the point where it is starting to have an impact on your day to day life, it can be thought of as problem gambling. If the individual doesn’t stop, their gambling may become compulsive. In full-blown gambling addiction, betting is the only thing the individual thinks about, and he or she cannot stop despite the mounting negative consequences. When somebody is addicted to gambling, the compulsion continues regardless of whether it’s going badly or well, and they will find it virtually impossible to stick to spending limits.
Why is Gambling Addictive?
The brain’s reward network is the primary means through which something becomes addictive. Drugs create an artificial surge of dopamine, the main neurotransmitter responsible for euphoric, rewarding feelings. This is supposed to be a reward for performing activities like eating or having sex, which are integral to human existence. Gambling and drugs of addiction short out this circuit by creating an association between the activity and a dopamine surge. This relationship can become so intense that ordinary activities such as eating no longer produce the same reward, and gambling is their only method of achieving it. Breaking down this association is the primary goal of psychotherapy.
What are the Signs of Gambling Addiction?
Generally, the most important marker for gambling addiction is an inability to stop in spite of negative consequences. Gambling when you can’t afford to, hiding your gambling and being unable to stop once you’ve started are important signs of addiction. Your family might have expressed concerns about your gambling in the past, but you ignored them and claimed that you didn’t have a problem. If you think you may be gambling compulsively, finding counselling or other psychological support is essential.
How is Gambling Addiction Treated?
The main form of treatment offered for gambling addiction is psychotherapy. Cognitive behavioural therapy is particularly effective, because it addresses both the internal thought processes and the external behaviours which contribute to the issue. Clients are taught new ways of thinking and behaving to remove the association between gambling and reward. The therapy empowers the individual to institute positive changes in their own life. Group counselling sessions can also be used in cases of gambling addiction, and these can use various approaches, such as the 12 step model of treatment.
If you’re concerned that you or your loved one is gambling compulsively and it’s causing a problem in your day to day life, you should seek psychological support. Addiction is a difficult problem to overcome, and talking to a qualified therapist can help individuals tackle their issues more effectively. If you’re having trouble with gambling addiction, don’t hesitate to get in touch! Visit us in person at our Luton offices or contact us by phone today!
For more information about our costs for gambling counselling services please see the about us page.