Then the person can think about how gambling affects him or her and how to get back in control. The more factors that apply, the more likely a person is to develop a gambling problem. For example, some people develop problems when they try to win back money they have lost or because they like to be “in the action.” Others have many life stresses and consider gambling a welcome relief. Gambling problems share many similarities with other addictive disorders.
Whether it is gambling on a slot machine or riding a skateboard, every day we engage in activities offering both a potential risk and a potential reward. Gambling addiction affects 1 to 3 percent of adults of all ages, men more often than women. While casino and sports betting had been limited to only a few states, other gambling venues have proliferated, including riverboat and Indian casinos, state and national lotteries, and Internet access to offshore sports and parlor betting.
Another important resource for those with gambling problems is Gamblers’ Anonymous . In conjunction with psychotherapy, GA has been found to help many of those recovering by allowing them to talk about their challenges and experiences with others who have gone through similar situations. Self-help efforts and peer support systems have also been shown to aid in recovery, whether or not these are in conjunction with professional help. If you answered yes to any of these, you could have a gambling addiction problem. SMART Recovery is a global community of people and families working together to resolve addictive problems. In our free group discussion meetings, participants learn from one another using a self-empowering approach based on the most current science of recovery.
With gambling addiction on the rise and across Europe in particular, the voices calling gambling a disease has been gaining grounds. The UK Gambling Commission announced a significant shift in their approach to gambling as they said that gambling is a disease, and therefore, it should be addressed adequately by the NHS. In Europe, the rate of problem gambling is typically 0.5 to 3 percent. The “British Gambling Prevalence Survey 2007”, conducted by the United Kingdom Gambling Commission, found approximately 0.6 percent of the adult population had problem gambling issues—the same percentage as in 1999.
In fact, gambling addiction is the most common impulse control disorder worldwide. First, a detoxification phase aims to achieve sustained abstinence in a safe manner that reduces immediate withdrawal symptoms (e.g., anxiety, irritability, and emotional instability, which may be present in both behavioral and substance addictions). The second phase is one of recovery, with emphasis on developing sustained motivation to avoid relapse, learning strategies to cope with cravings, and developing new, healthy patterns of behavior to replace addictive behavior. Third, relapse prevention aims to sustain abstinence in the long term. Most clinical trials for behavioral addictions have focused on short-term outcomes. This was the first formal recognition of behavioral addiction in the psychiatry text, which is considered the “gold standard” in the field of mental health.
During and after treatment, joining a support group for compulsive gambling, such as Gamblers Anonymous, can help reduce the risk of returning to previous gambling behaviors. A gambling addiction occurs when a person can no longer control the compulsive behavior. Secondary addictions can also occur in an effort to reduce the negative feelings created by the gambling addiction. However, some people who gamble never experience any other addiction. Many people who develop a gambling addiction are considered responsible and dependable people, but some factors can lead to a change in behavior.