How to treat compulsive gambling? Tips and Recommendations

Pathological gambling or gambling usually begins in young adolescents and later in young adults. It is not common that the hook to the game occurs from the first bet; for most people the process is more complicated.

It can start from the prolonged experience of social play, with the pathological impulse suddenly arising from a greater need for play or from a stressful situation. The subject follows a regular or intermittent habit, and the development of the disorder is chronic.

In most cases, the habit of gambling, the money wagered and the interest in the game grow. The pathological need to gamble and gamble is favored when the subject goes through episodes of stress or depression .

Is it possible to treat compulsive gambling?

Similar to drug addiction, working to overcome a gambling addiction involves great effort, motivation, and decisive will ; but, it can be overcome. Gambling is to a gambler, what drugs are to a drug addict.

As a behavioral addiction, in which the mind demands its gratification, it is possible to reprogram such behavior. It is observed that patients who have suffered the serious consequences of gambling in their personal lives are the ones who are most willing to find the path to recovery .

How to cure gambling with the help of friends and family?

Below are a series of recommendations for the friends and family environment of gamblers, which would help them overcome this disorder. Understood as addiction, gambling is beyond the control of the person . It is important to ask the relevant questions without making judgments. In principle, how do you conduct your life?

The addict is likely unaware of his disorder and its characteristics. Also, you probably do not realize the damage you cause to your family environment. Another fundamental question is knowing about your willingness to change and improve your life.

The issues outlined are the basis for the steps to follow. If the person denies that his behavior is a pathology, then there would be no point in contradicting him. Those who decide to help a gambler must know exactly what the disorder is and how it manifests itself . They must know how important it is to put themselves in the place of the gambler, without being it. It is itself an empathic knowledge.

For most gamblers their addiction is non-existent, so it is necessary to expose reality as it is. A necessary strategy is to make him see the close link that exists between his financial or personal problems , the suffering of his closest relatives, and his pathological gambling. The simple statement – you are a gambler – is useless, even if I repeat it a thousand times.

The subject caught by gambling can avoid his addiction so as not to become aware of it; However, it will be difficult for you to ignore the picture of suffering that originates in your human environment (for example, your children or parents) and the loss of money (the difficulties to pay the mortgage on your house or pay the rent, are some) .

The next step, once you have managed to make your friend or relative who is a gambler aware of the damage caused by their addiction , will begin the task of explaining what the disorder they have is about.

It is a crucial stage that will only work if the person has already made the awareness process their own, already indicated. In your description, you should avoid falling into determinisms and judgments. It is an orientation; you should let the same person verify your information with their own investigations.

Another resource that favors the loss of interest in the game is to get the person to see their problem from another perspective . For example, if the subject does not have time to play with his minor children because, according to him, work hours prevent it, invite him to stop playing for a while to see if he has time to spend with his children.

Children and the quality time you spend with them can be an incentive and motivation superior to addiction to gambling . With these types of proposals, you may become aware of your failures as a parent thanks to the game. This is just an example, each case will have multiple ways to redirect the problem.

Once the person is interested in quitting their addiction to gambling, the next stage will be to offer or propose totally different options that are constructive. At this time, it would be interesting to propose that you carry out cultural, recreational, sports, family activities, etc.

Positive changes may not all be seen overnight, but you can help your friend or family member realize how valuable those changes are already in their life.

The organization of daily tasks is a fundamental tool to avoid approaching dangerous places, where there are games and alcohol. Help that person to get away from stimulating circumstances and spaces where there are gaming machines, casinos, etc.

The extra emotional support is a very valuable incentive for anyone trying to get out of an addiction. People suffer withdrawal syndrome, go through depression and stress. For this reason, closing ranks with that person, helping them to change their life, is essential for overcoming any addiction.

How to cure gambling without the help of friends and family? 

When gambling is serious or is a disorder of many years, with discharges and relapses, but the patient is still interested in overcoming the disorder, it is essential to go to a psychotherapist or psychiatrist.

For example, psychoanalysts approach the disorder by studying the internal conflicts that symbolize addictive behavior. In any case, more commonly the treatment for this type of pathology is based on two lines of action:

  • In the therapeutic area : the psychological doctrine addresses the problem from behavioral therapy (behaviorist) or cognitive behavioral therapy. For behaviorism, behaviors (normal or dysfunctional) are learned and, consequently, are susceptible to being exchanged for behaviors that are not harmful to the subject and to the environment in which it operates.

Behavioral therapy systematically exposes the patient to addictive behavior and introduces methods to reduce the desire to play.

Cognitive behavioral therapy works on the study of the motives, catalysts and supporters of addiction, focusing on those that are susceptible to being rectified. The doctrine is based on the assumption that many disorders are due to negative beliefs that people hold about themselves, the environment and the future.

Therapy identifies pathological and negative ideas and replaces them with contrary ideas. In this aspect, the family enters to play an important role, which can be summoned to be part of the therapy. The patient is taught methods of emotional management so that he can face his addiction.

  • Regarding medication : some pictures are treated with antidepressants. Certain drugs are used to control mood disorders that accompany gambling patients, such as depression and obsessive compulsive disorder, among others.

Additionally, certain antidepressants are helpful in reducing pathological behavior.

  • Accompaniment of self-help groups . Just as there are groups of Alcoholics Anonymous, also gamblers can reinforce their treatment by being part of a self-help group.

These groups are made up of patients who reinforce their therapy with open recognition of their disorder in a frank and free way. Generally, they are led by an expert moderator, who maintains a routine so that particular conversations and presentations go smoothly.

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Alexa Clark specializes in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. She has experience in listening and welcoming in Individual Therapy and Couples Therapy. It meets demands such as generalized anxiety, professional, love and family conflicts, stress, depression, sexual dysfunction, grief, and adolescents from 15 years of age. Over the years, She felt the need to conduct the psychotherapy sessions with subtlety since She understands that the psychologist acts as a facilitator of self-understanding and self-acceptance, valuing each person's respect, uniqueness, and acceptance.

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