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Treating compulsive gambling or gambling addiction involves an intensive therapy programme using a range of techniques.

Gambling addiction can be particularly difficult not only for the individual but also for their friends and families. The most visible characteristic of a compulsive gambler is dishonesty. Dishonesty to a degree where the gambler themselves is not even sure what the truth is anymore. This level of dishonesty and denial becomes a part of the problem itself and requires a comprehensive gambling rehab programme.

There are many different types of compulsive gambling:

  • Fixed Odds Betting Terminals (usually Roulette)
  • Online gambling
  • Betting shop (greyhounds, horse racing, other sports)
  • Stocks and shares
  • Fruit machines
  • Poker
  • Casinos
  • Bingo

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The Science of gambling addiction

Dopamine is released from the brain during pleasurable activities. This can be anything from drinking water to having sex. Dopamine is also released when a pleasurable activity is anticipated. For the compulsive gambler, the thought of gambling releases dopamine and expects further dopamine release once the activity has been carried out.

The problem with a compulsive gambler is that if they do not follow through the anticipated activity (the gambling), they experience a very strong urge (cravings) to gamble in order to receive the dopamine uplift. The strength of this craving is often too difficult to overcome.

Over time, this results in the construction of neurological pathways meaning that the cravings become stronger. The addiction becomes harder to break without professional help. Although these pathways remain for years, the good news is that with the right gambling rehab programme and time of not gambling, they become weaker and weaker. This process begins in our gambling rehab.

Gambling rehab options

There are a range of gambling programmes available at The Providence Projects. These programmes range from 4 – 12 weeks depending on your requirements. Ideally, the longer the better. The longer term programmes enable the team here to really help individuals address the underlying issues and develop all the skills necessary to abstain from gambling. However, we also understand that there may be financial and practical restraints that may mean that anything more than 4 weeks is not possible.

If you have any questions about the gambling rehab programmes at The Providence Projects and which one might be suitable for you or a loved one, please call us today and speak to one of our addiction specialists on 0800 9550945.

Primary Treatment

The comprehensive therapy programme includes a range of 1-1 counselling, group therapy, workshops, assignments, activities, lectures, complementary therapies, family therapy and much more.

The first stage of gambling treatment is obviously to learn how to stop the gambling. The safe and supportive environment provided here is designed to ensure that all clients are given the support that they need to stop immediately.

Initially, the programme concentrates on the gambling and associated behaviours. With their therapist and in their group, residents will explore their gambling, the consequences and their denial. Believe it or not, after years of gambling, some gamblers are still convinced that if they gamble in a certain way or only on certain things, they have a system that will win. If this type of denial exists, this is explored in detail.

Because of the brain chemistry, as mentioned previously, some gamblers may experience feelings of depression too. The team of Doctors and therapists available are highly experienced in this. Due to the intensity of the high when gambling, many gamblers can find life ‘boring’ or ‘unfulfilling’ as they are unable to get the same thrill. As part of the programme, clients work through these issues and are helped to develop a new attitude, a new way of thinking and begin to rebuild themselves without the need to gamble.

During this part of the gambling recovery programme, clients will:

  • Explore previous thinking and behaviour through a range of assignments
  • Explore consequences of gambling
  • Process feelings and emotions
  • Explore effects on family and friends
  • Family meetings
  • Gain insight and awareness into behaviour and addiction
  • Explore underlying issues
  • Develop skills to manage urges to gamble
  • Improve wellbeing

Secondary Treatment

For those with a gambling addiction looking for a longer term rehab programme, they will move on to our secondary treatment programme.

Much of the therapy during this stage of gambling treatment will concentrate on from the foundations built during the primary stages of the rehab programme.  The difficulty when dealing with addiction is often the individual will become convinced that they are ‘cured’ and are in danger of becoming overconfident.

In this phase of gambling rehab, you will be given more responsibility and will be preparing for life after rehab.
During this stage, we continue to build upon the self-esteem whilst at the same time identifying and working on the thinking and behaviour which leads back to addiction.  In secondary treatment, clients will have a full peer evaluation to comprehensively identify blocks and resources to recovery, engage in one-one counselling to address issues identified in the treatment plan as well as intensive daily group therapy programmes.

There is also quite a strong focus on relapse prevention and how to apply the skills learnt here in the outside world.  The relapse prevention element of this programme will include some education elements, some written elements, skill straining and role play so that you are best prepared for life after treatment.

Commonly during this phase of treatment, we would also encourage clients to visit home in order to experience what that is like after a period of time in rehab.  This can also raise some issues which had been previously not been identified.

After successful completion of secondary treatment you will ‘graduate’ from rehab.  These are magical days whereby we celebrate your achievements with your group and/or your family before putting your aftercare plan into action

28 Day Detox & Rehab Programme - £5,500

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What issues are covered in primary and secondary gambling rehab programmes?

At The Providence Projects, we understand that compulsive gambling is not always as straight forward as it seems. In order to successfully address the gambling addiction, a range of issues are explored during the rehab programme.

As part of the gambling rehab programme the following issues will be explored and for many are tied in with their compulsive gambling

  • Self esteem
  • Lifestyle
  • Anger management
  • Relapse prevention
  • Relationships
  • Stress management
  • Life balance
  • Families
  • Thinking errors
  • Shame and guilt
  • Boundaries
  • Grief and loss
  • Adverse childhood experiences
  • Self-pity

Of course, not all these issues would apply to all of our clients, but this is an example of some of the issues that are addressed as part of the comprehensive treatment programme.

Gambling Aftercare

Many will say that the true test comes afterwards. In many ways, this is true.

The foundations for long term recovery are made during your Rehab programme and as part of that programme we work closely with you and your loved ones to agree your aftercare plan. The important element is that the aftercare plan works for you.

Aftercare can be anything from a weekly Gamblers Anonymous meeting to an outpatient day programme. It may include 1-1 counselling, group sessions, regular exercise, family sessions and maintaining recovery based friendships.

The Providence model is quite unique and the transition from treatment into life after treatment is quite seamless. Clients have practiced the skills here required on a daily basis. In a safe way, they have been exposed to potential risks and triggers and all of the evidence demonstrates that this results in improved self-efficacy.

Some clients choose to engage in aftercare with us and do so for a long time whilst others successfully complete and wish to get on with life; both can work and it is about working with the therapy team to come up with a plan that works.
The Providence Projects are here for as long as our clients need us.

Gambling rehab programme summary

  • 4 – 12 week programmes available
  • Free telephone or face to face assessment (45 mins)
  • Immediate admissions available
  • Comprehensive programmes to address the underlying issues
  • Great location
  • Great success rates
  • Nationwide alumni and aftercare options

Whether you are the person with the problem, or you are concerned about a loved one, please call today and speak confidentially to one of our addiction specialist counsellors.

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Signs of a gambling addiction

No two cases are the same but here are the recognised signs and effects of gambling addiction:

  1. Pre-occupation with gambling
    People with a gambling addiction spend much of their time not gambling but thinking about, planning and working out their next gambling activity.
  2. Loss of control
    People with a gambling addiction will try to limit their gambling; promising themselves that they will only spend £20, only to end up having spent £200.
  3. Tolerance to gambling
    Like drugs, gamblers often look for a bigger thrill as their addiction progresses. Needing a bigger win, or a more exciting bet for the same effect.
  4. Experiencing ‘withdrawals’
    Although gambling doesn’t necessarily have physical withdrawals, many gamblers will become anxious, irritable or depressed.
  5. Escapism
    You gamble in order to ‘mask’ or ‘numb’ psychological pain. For example, when a gambling addict is playing a fruit machine, they are switched off from everything else.
  6. Chasing your losses
    You continue to gamble in a desperate attempt to regain money you’ve lost in prior bets
  7. Lying and stealing
    Unfortunately, this is what often affects loved ones. Gamblers often become very dishonest.

Other reasons why gambling addiction can be hard to break

Gambling websites and casinos have really become aggressive in their marketing, keeping gamblers hooked with a range of techniques. These may not work with everyone but for someone who may be struggling to break an addiction, these tricks make it even harder.

Online casinos / gambling websites

Once a client has registered their details with an online casino, they will often find themselves bombarded with direct marketing. This ploy has been very effecting for the gambling companies to extract as much money as possible from gamblers. Very often, ‘the hook’ is a free bet of some sort. They will often send these texts or emails out at a time when they may have seen a loss or break in activity on the account. Very often, these ‘free bets’ do not allow you to collect winnings if successful but simply put the winnings in your account which has to be gambled with again before being allowed to collect any winnings. Of course, this triggers the gambler, opens the addictive pathways and they are in the vicious circle again.

No doubt, you would have seen the constant stream of advertisements on TV glamourising gambling. Since the growth in smart phones, this has enabled people to gamble continuously and not be able to switch off at all. At least bookmakers must close sometimes!

Imagine you were trying to diet but carried a bar of chocolate in your pocket all day every day. Would you be able to leave it? If so, for how long? This is like a gambler trying not to gamble with a smartphone.


Casinos use slightly different tactics but with the same aim. The aim is to essentially build on the addiction and to extract as much money as possible from every gambler.

One of the more complex psychological tactics is to encourage gamblers to make sense of randomness. This also happens on fruit machines, roulette wheels and FOBT’s.

For example, on a roulette wheel, there will be a list of the numbers which won on the last 20 spins. There is no need for this list to be there, as it is not relevant at all. However, this encourages gamblers to watch the list, believing that this may inform them of what will happen next. Of course, every spin on a roulette wheel is completely random.

On fruit machines, by showing the symbol above and below the line, the gambler will often experience the near win. This causes a rush of adrenaline and usually results in further gambling. In fact, it has no relevance on the chance of winning.

Casinos will also use tactics such as free food, free drinks, free tickets and generally make the bigger gamblers feel ‘special’, hoping that they will always return to their casino.

If you or a loved one is considering seeking professional gambling therapy or help, speak to our experienced counsellors today.


Providence Projects Programme Timetable

*Example timetable - subject to change

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