Gambling addiction has become a big problem in recent years, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic when online casinos noticed a huge bump in the number of their players.
In the U.S., around 750,000 people between 14 and 21 are problem gamblers or those who gamble more than their finances allow or steal money to support their gambling, according to a report published by the University of Buffalo.
Worldwide, around 350 million people have gambling problems, with the World Health Organization crediting the increase in number to the convergence between gaming and gambling on various platforms.
Having said all these, gambling addiction is a serious matter. However, those who are suffering from it may be unaware of their condition.
What Is Gambling Addiction?
Gambling addiction, like all forms of addiction, is a serious and real condition that impairs one’s ability to think clearly outside of that which gives them satisfaction for their craving. There are several factors that come into play in a gambling addiction problem, including high levels of stress, loneliness, mental illness, and proximity to other addicted gamblers, among others.
Since gambling addiction has different facts, treating it requires a multidisciplinary approach. Experts say most people who develop an addiction to gambling are those who struggle to find comfort and happiness in other aspects of their life. Others develop it out of habit, while some engage into it after realizing the huge winnings involved and develop the condition later on.
How to Treat Gambling Addiction?
There are various facilities out there that offer treatment programs for gambling addicts. Most of them follow a multidisciplinary approach since each case requires a different level of intervention and professional help. Regardless of the program, treatment for gambling addiction usually involves the following:
- Rehab – In-house programs are the standard treatment for gambling addicts since this provides full support to recovery. Patients can only leave once they have learned how to take control over their lives again.
- Medication – Other licensed professionals recommend medications for treatment. This is a bit tricky since outpatient cases can easily ignore their prescribed drugs when there is no supervision.
- Support groups – This is the most common form of treatment for addicts in general. Addicted gamblers can benefit from this since they can find inspiration from other members who have already succeeded their battles and those who are en route to full recovery.
- Cognitive behavioral therapy – For those who will require psychological treatment, this form of therapy is the most ideal since it really helps patients overcome their cravings and tendencies and give their brains a boost in taking control of things.
Where to Seek Help?
After you have acknowledged the problem and have come into terms that what you are dealing with is beyond your control, it would be the perfect time to formally reach out to the professionals and experts for help.
In the U.S., the best place to check out is the National Council on Problem Gambling. You can visit their website at ncpgambling.org or call them at +1 800 522 4700.
There is also The MA Problem Gambling Helpline, which operates under the Department of Public Health – Office of Problem Gambling Services. Online support is available on its website, or you can speak with an agent by dialing 800 327 5050.
Other countries have different agencies and organizations that provide support and help for those with gambling addiction. For example, the U.K. has gamcare.org and gamblersanonymous.org.