Gambling addiction is a powerful and progressive illness. Given the current climate and the global pandemic we are living through, there have been many restrictions placed on live sport. As a result, bookmakers have turned towards promoting online casino games and virtual sports. Gamblers may not understand the addictive nature of these products – how they have no limits – and the consequences can be devastating. The temptation for users is huge: gambling advertisements create the false belief that gambling is a quick way of making money, which obviously appeals to those who are struggling financially. Sadly, we have seen many bookmakers increase advertisements across social media channels and online since the pandemic began.
It goes without saying that problem gambling is on the rise. A recent study led by the UK’s Gambling Commission, responsible for regulating the industry in the UK, found that 1.2 % of those who gamble will develop a gambling addiction. But when it comes to online sports betting, that figure rises to 2.5%. This rises further to a staggering 9.2% when we focus solely on online gaming such as roulette or casino games. The Gambling Commission noted an increase in customers placing online bets, playing virtual sports and casino gaming in recent months.
The nation has been living under lockdown measures for the best part of a year, and this has only made things worse. Many of us have significantly increased the amount of time we spend behind a screen. This is largely due to ‘stay at home’ message emphasised by the government, and the shift to home-working and home-schooling. Problem gamblers are much more likely to be exposed to online gambling platforms and advertisements for greater lengths of time. Sadly, there aren’t the necessary restrictions in place online, and more and more people will fall victim to the lure of these services. For many, the anticipation, thrill and chasing the ‘high’ of a potential win, are a welcome distraction to the boredom, monotony and loneliness associated with COVID-19. Add to this the fact that this type of gambling is available simply by clicking your phone, tablet or computer, 24/7, also contributes to greater risk of addiction.
Do I have a gambling addiction?
Gambling addiction is a type of impulse-control disorder, which quickly spirals until the gambler has little to no control over their urges to gamble. The consequences can be severe, but the addict’s primary goal is to gamble, regardless of the hurt they may be inflicting on themselves and on those who love them. Addiction is a progressive illness, and one that only ever gets worse. Online betting can progress particularly quickly – as gamblers don’t need to even wait for a specific sports match – they can place bets in quick succession and chase the wins. The speed of this method of gambling is such that users rarely comprehend the severity of the problem and the debts they are racking up.
Often, there are psychological issues at the root of the gambling addiction. Gambling provides a release, an escape, a high, that can provide comfort in times of distress. This is a false sense of security. In reality, gambling addiction will only add to your problems. The consequences can be life-threatening. Many might assume these are primarily financial. Whilst it’s true that problem gamblers often face extreme financial difficulties, their issues often stretch far beyond their bank account. The negative impacts are felt in relationships with family and friends, at work, and to their mental and physical health. Gambling addiction is often associated with increased depression and anxiety, and there is a greater risk of suicide. One study found that gamblers are six times more likely to have suicidal thoughts or attempts.
If you or a loved one are struggling with problem gambling, it is crucial to seek professional help and to speak with an addiction specialist. They will be able to advise on the best course of treatment and gambling rehabilitation, to treat the root causes of the gambling addiction. The current global pandemic has only exacerbated the risk for problem gamblers – it is more important than ever for sufferers to seek help. Contributing factors include financial insecurity, isolation and loneliness and boredom. Below are some of the key signs that someone is suffering with a gambling addiction.
Signs and Symptoms of Gambling Addiction
- Loss of control over gambling urges despite negative consequences
- An overwhelming preoccupation with gambling, to the detriment of all other aspects of your life
- Increasing the amount of money you gamble
- Negative impact on relationships with family and friends
- Denial about your gambling problem
- Lying about the amount of time and money spent on gambling
- Financial problems
- Workplace problems e.g. poor attendance, lack of concentration on daily tasks
Benefits of gambling rehab
Gambling addiction can take over your life, until everything else shrinks in importance. Addiction can make us lose all perspective on reality – the brain and body is only focussed on achieving the next high. By entering a residential gambling rehab setting, such as the Providence Projects, you are removed from the home environment where your gambling took place. Having a break from these triggers associated with the addiction can give you the best possible chance of recovery, and remaining clean and sober long-term.
Our private gambling rehab clinic, based in Bournemouth on England’s beautiful south coast, has been open since 1996, providing recovering addicts with a safe, supportive, and therapeutic setting in which to get well. Our range of detox and rehab programmes are available to suit all kinds of addiction problems, from alcohol to gambling, drug addiction to co-occurring disorders. We provide our clients with a tailored and bespoke recovery programme, as well as offering aftercare support to both the client and their family. This allows our clients to safely transition back into their home environment, whilst also continuing their rehab treatment with the support of a trusted therapist.
Treatment for compulsive gambling may involve inpatient treatment, outpatient programmes, counselling or attendance at support groups. Many gambling addicts have a hard time admitting they have a problem – a major component of gambling rehab is to get the addict to acknowledge and accept the reality of their gambling addiction.
Treatment at a private gambling rehab clinic often involves a combination of therapies. These include CBT – cognitive behavioural therapy – which exposes you to the behaviour you want to unlearn and teaches you coping skills to manage your urges to gamble. This type of talking therapy also focuses on helping the user identify unhealthy and unhelpful thoughts and beliefs, which get in the way of their progress in recovery.
Medication is often used in combination with therapy, such as mood stabilizers and anti-depressants, which can help the brain to regulate impulsive behaviour. Here at the Providence Projects, we also strongly encourage regular attendance at 12-step support groups such as Gambler’s Anonymous (GA). By meeting and talking with other recovering gambling addicts, you can start to believe that recovery is possible and to develop a recovery support network.
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Help is available
Here at the Providence Projects, we understand what you’re going through. Gambling addiction impacts not only the addict, but their family and friends who care so much about them too. Addiction is a family illness and the effects can be devastating. We are here to help in any way we can. The Providence Projects has helped thousands of addicts to recover, and go on to lead happy, healthy, productive lives in recovery. Recovery is possible. We provide a free, no-obligation service to anyone looking for help or advice. Call us today on 0800 955 0945 to speak to one of our team of therapists, and schedule your initial consultation.
The current climate and COVID-19 restrictions have affected us all. We want you to know that we remain open, and committed to providing safe and effective treatment for all our clients. The benefits of a residential treatment programme are second to none; a gambling rehabilitation facility is the perfect place to start your recovery journey. Our therapists have years of experience providing therapies, both online and in-person, as well as tailored and bespoke aftercare programmes. We do understand that coronavirus has made many more people feel anxious, unsettled and fearful. We want to assure you that our private rehab clinic is a safe, COVID-19 secure environment, and that we regularly review our standards and policies to ensure we are up to date with the latest government guidance.