Gambling Addiction Facts, Myths, and Treatment Options

Gambling Addiction Facts

Written By: Lighthouse Editorial Team

Our editorial team includes content experts that contribute to Lighthouse Recovery Institute’s blog. Editors and medical experts review our blogs for accuracy and relevance. We consistently monitor the latest research from SAMHSA and NIDA to provide you with the most comprehensive addiction-related content.
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Lighthouse Editorial Team. "Gambling Addiction Facts, Myths, and Treatment Options." Lighthouse Recovery Institute., Last updated Oct 2, 2020 at 2:12PM | Published on Feb 15, 2020, https://lighthouserecoveryinstitute.com/gambling-addiction-myths-and-facts/.

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Last updated Oct 2, 2020 at 2:12PM | Published on Feb 15, 2020 | Rehab Programs

There are many kinds of addiction that plague people every day. These can be alcohol addiction, drug addiction, or gambling addiction, to name a few. Gambling addiction can have many faces and is often not seen as problematic. As a result, many wait too long before seeking gambling addiction treatment. But when you look at gambling addiction facts, the reality is a bit different. Close to 10 million Americans struggle with a gambling addiction. 

What is a Gambling Addiction?

Gambling addiction, also known as compulsive gambling, pathological gambling, or gambling disorder, is an impulse control disorder. When there is an addiction rooted in impulse control, the addict struggles to stop, despite the harmful consequences that arise. As a result, they continue to gamble and satisfy the impulse.

Also, gambling addiction can take many forms and does not just happen in casinos. It can also take the form of betting on sports or races of any kind, scratch-off tickets, poker games, slot machines, or any other type of gambling. 

Having a gambling problem can exist even if there is not a complete loss of control. For example, difficulty concentrating, or frequent thoughts of gambling may be indicative of a gambling disorder.

Shocking Gambling Addiction Facts

Because gambling addiction isn’t as noticeable on someone’s physical appearance, most people don’t know who struggles with this illness. However, compulsive gambling effects up to 3% of Americans. Here are some shocking gambling addiction statistics that explain how broad the problem can be.

  • Men are more likely to develop a gambling problem than women, yet women make 25% of individuals with pathological gambling.
  • Around 75% of gamblers had an alcohol disorder, 38% had a substance use disorder, and 60% were nicotine dependent.
  • Close to 50% of gamblers have experienced a mood disorder, 41.3% had experienced an anxiety disorder, and 60.8% had experienced a personality disorder.
  • Overall, compulsive betting behavior costs about 6 billion dollars per year for U.S. economics.
  • People between 16-24 and 35-44 are the most susceptible to struggle with gambling addiction. 

Gambling Addiction Myths 

There are some myths about gambling addiction that have been instrumental in continuing this destructive cycle of addiction. Because education is the best form of prevention, discussing these myths is essential to validate their need for professional help. Thus, understanding the truth about this problem will inevitably help those that have a potential gambling problem.

Myth #1: Everyday Gambling

A gambling addict must gamble every day for there to be an issue. This concept is not valid. Additionally, this concept plays into the stigma of gambling addiction. Having a gambling problem has nothing to do with the frequency of gambling. Generally, if issues originate from gambling, regardless of how often, it requires attention.

Myth #2: They Can Afford It, So It’s Fine

Affordability has nothing to do with whether or not there is an addiction. Let’s think of this in terms of drug abuse or alcohol addiction. Having the money to gamble doesn’t take away the disease of addiction. When we’re talking about addiction, it means people can’t control the urge to gamble despite having negative consequences in their financial problems, professional and personal lives. 

Myth #3: They Are Weak Irresponsible

Various types of addiction can affect any person at any time. The amount of will power they have does not have a bearing on it. Previously responsible parents may get bit by the gambling bug and turn into a completely different person that can only think about the next time they get to gamble. Remember, as with most addictions, in most cases, their brain’s chemistry works differently, and they cannot control the impulses. 

Myth #4: It Is the Loved One’s Fault

Generally, this kind of rationalization is common in people that struggle with addiction. It is hard for them to take responsibility for their actions, so they blame them. However, no one else is responsible for their choices or addiction. For example, when people feel the rush of winning, this dopamine surge can be very addictive. 

Myth #5: It Is Okay to Help Them Pay the Debt 

While it may seem like help and protection, it is enabling the gambling behavior to continue. Generally, giving the addict a quick way out of their problem will allow them to get into to continue the destructive behavior.  Remember, their gambling problem isn’t merely financial. While they might be out of debt, if they don’t get treatment for their addictive behavior, they’ll continue to gamble in the future. 

Gambling Addiction Treatment Options

There are treatment options that can help people with gambling addiction break free from their addiction. The length of treatment and levels of care generally will depend on the severity of the addiction. At Lighthouse Recovery Institute, we believe in integrating different therapy styles to create a fully comprehensive approach to addiction and recovery. 

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

Starting with evidence-based treatments, cognitive-behavioral therapy is often the first recommendation. The purpose is to attack the addictive and impulsive behavior and teach people strategies to manage and move away from this behavior. By tackling what leads people to addiction in the first place, we’re more likely to help someone stop addiction and move towards healthier practices shortly. Of course, CBT needs other therapies and strategies to be successful. 

Dual Diagnosis Treatments

Individuals struggling with a gambling addiction may also struggle with drug or alcohol addiction. Dual diagnosis treatment can help those struggling with many dependencies, not just gambling. Those struggling with mental health illnesses such as bipolar disorder, drug addiction, or alcoholism can benefit from dual diagnosis treatments to simultaneously find help for both conditions. 

Family Therapy

Like most addiction problems, most families, marriages, and relationships are destroyed most of the time. Family members lose their trust and the sense of companionship with those struggling with addiction. However, we believe family support is paramount for recovery, which is why we often integrate family therapy services in our treatment programs to help health the family nucleus and help those in recovery have the tools and support they need to get better.

Support Groups

Support groups, such as Gamblers Anonymous, are an excellent step for gamblers because they are organized by those who understand a particular problem. They also give accountability to the person that is struggling with gambling. Support groups are not intensive and may not be appropriate for every addict in the beginning. Those in recovery can also visit support groups for alcoholism or drug addiction to understand the best way to maintain long-term recovery. 

Florida Gambling Addiction Programs

If you or someone you know is struggling with a gambling addiction problem, know there’s hope. At Lighthouse Recovery Institute, we believe in creating personalized approaches to help people battle their addiction. Please, contact us today and speak with our addiction counselors to learn more about our programs and the best path to recovery. Don’t feel shame or nervous; our calls and consultations are one-hundred percent confidential. 

Written By: Lighthouse Editorial Team

Our editorial team includes content experts that contribute to Lighthouse Recovery Institute’s blog. Editors and medical experts review our blogs for accuracy and relevance. We consistently monitor the latest research from SAMHSA and NIDA to provide you with the most comprehensive addiction-related content.

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