Gambling Addiction Treatment

Gambling disorders are more common than people often realize.

It’s estimated that 2 million American adults meet the criteria for a gambling disorder, with another 4 to 6 million struggling with problem gambling. Worse yet, only 1 in 5 individuals with a gambling problem get help. Even though there is no cure for a gambling disorder, steps can be taken to break the hold that gambling has over a person’s life.

Wolf Creek Recovery treats gambling disorders of all severities. We take pride in having staff who are in recovery themselves, as this allows them to have a level of understanding and compassion for our clients. When you or a loved one seeks treatment for a gambling disorder at our facility, you will work with a team who recognizes what you’re going through and how it has impacted your life and your family’s life.

What is a Gambling Disorder? What are the Signs?

Compulsive gambling is the uncontrollable urge to keep gambling despite the consequences it’s having on your life. It often starts as a fun activity that you do on occasion, and then spirals into an unhealthy obsession that interferes with your life. Gambling takes many forms – it can be sports, scratch cards, online games and apps, casinos, slots, poker and more.

The signs and symptoms of a gambling disorder may include:

  • Always thinking about gambling
  • Gambling to escape your problems
  • Chasing losses (trying to get back money you lost)
  • Lying to family members about your gambling
  • Needing to gamble with increasing amounts of money
  • Trying to control or stop gambling without success
  • Risking or losing relationships over gambling
  • Asking others to bail you out of financial trouble

How Does Gambling Affect the Brain?

Gambling can stimulate the brain’s reward system, much like drugs and alcohol can, leading to addiction. Through research, we know that compulsive gambling is an actual brain disorder and not a lack of willpower or greed.

When a person gambles, dopamine is released in the brain. Continuous gambling causes the body to develop a tolerance since the natural production of dopamine is inhibited. The body then needs more of the stimulating substance to get the same rush. Just as a drug user needs stronger hits to get high, gambling addicts pursue riskier ventures and bet increasingly large amounts of money.

Research shows that compulsive gamblers and drug users share many of the same predispositions for impulsivity and reward seeking. And when compulsive gamblers try to quit, they experience similar withdrawal symptoms as drug users like sweating, headaches, restlessness and irritability.

Treating Gambling Addiction

Therapists have found that compulsive gamblers respond well to treatment. Cognitive behavioral therapy has been shown to be especially beneficial since it treats relapse prevention skills, changes unhealthy habits and identifies underlying causes of the gambling, such as anxiety or depression.

Support groups and 12-step programs like Gamblers Anonymous can also help the recovery process. These groups provide a safe and non-judgemental space where you can share your story, learn from others’ experiences and develop healthy connections.

Finding alternate hobbies is also an important part of recovery. People enjoy gambling because it creates a rush of pleasure, curbs boredom and numbs unpleasant emotions. It can also be a social activity. Wolf Creek Recovery introduces our clients to new, healthy activities like outdoor therapy, sports, recreation, art, music, meditation, yoga and more.

Seek Treatment for a Gambling Disorder

Wolf Creek Recovery offers a variety of therapies and treatments for gambling disorders. We have a Phase One and Phase Two program that explore the motivations for gambling and how to break this destructive cycle. We can also treat co-occurring disorders at this time, as these diagnoses are not uncommon in problem gamblers.

Our Extended Care program will help you grow stronger in your recovery. For many problem gamblers, it’s not quitting gambling that’s the challenge but staying away from it. The internet has made it easy to gamble – there are always games and apps at your fingertips. This makes it harder to avoid relapse. Our Extended Program will help you stay on track.

To learn more about our gambling addiction treatment services, contact Wolf Creek Recovery today. We understand gambling disorders and how they are often rooted in deeper issues that must be resolved. Let us help you find direction and healing so that you can rebuild your life!

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