Therapy for Gambling Addiction

Gambling can be fun on a night out, but like so many other vices, it can also be highly addictive. The activity affects the reward centers of the brain, causing some people to get hooked on the experience. If you have a gambling addiction, you may feel like you can’t stop yourself from gambling no matter the consequences.
Addiction is a painful disease, but you don’t have to let a gambling problem control your life. You can treat gambling addiction with therapy and other mental health interventions. Although letting go of gambling may feel impossible, with the right support, you can overcome your addiction and strengthen your mental health.

Signs of Gambling Addiction

For many people, gambling is an occasional, harmless activity. When you have a gambling addiction, though, the gambling can feel like it’s completely out of your control. Recognizing and accepting that you have an addiction is the first step toward healing. Unfortunately, people often don’t see the signs of addiction in themselves until they’ve experienced severe consequences.

The following are some of the most common signs that you have a gambling addiction:

  • • You think about gambling frequently throughout the day.
  • • You feel anxious or irritable when you can’t gamble.
  • • You gamble to escape from negative emotions or from problems in your life.
  • • You lie to your loved ones about your gambling habits.
  • • You need to gamble in increasingly larger amounts to find the thrill you’re seeking.
  • • You’ve experienced job loss, strained relationships, or other serious problems as a result of gambling.

Risk Factors for Developing a Gambling Addiction

While some people can gamble from time to time without issue, others are more likely to become fixated on the activity. Certain risk factors increase your chances of developing a gambling addiction, so it’s important to take note of where you’re at with your mental health before engaging in gambling.

A gambling addiction often co-occurs with another mental health disorder, such as depression, anxiety, or bipolar disorder. When you’re struggling with your mental health, you may look for any possible opportunity to feel a sense of thrill or excitement. Gambling can provide that feeling, and it can quickly become addictive. Alternatively, gambling may be your escape from the painful emotions you’re experiencing. Some people report that gambling distracts them from their problems or numbs their pain.

People with a gambling addiction often have other addictions, too. If you’ve ever struggled with substance abuse, you may be at an increased risk of developing a gambling addiction. Although gambling doesn’t physically affect your body the way that drugs or alcohol do, the effect that gambling has on your brain is very similar.
Your personality might make you predisposed to a gambling addiction as well. Although addiction is a disease and not a character defect, some people feel more compelled to gamble than others. For example, highly competitive people are at an increased risk for gambling addiction. Those who often feel restless or who have a history of impulsive behavior are at risk, too.

How Gambling Addiction Can Control Your Life

Gambling addiction can have a profound impact on your health and happiness. Sometimes, people who struggle with a gambling addiction try to dismiss or justify the problem because gambling isn’t a substance with physical health risks. However, the consequences of a gambling addiction are very real and very painful.
The financial loss is usually the first major consequence for someone with a gambling addiction. Even though you’re losing money, you feel like you can’t stop. You might go into debt or sell anything you possibly can to get more money to gamble. As the addiction gets stronger, you may find yourself going to drastic lengths to find more money.
Gambling also takes time away from the rest of your life. You may lose all of your other hobbies and passions because you spend every free moment gambling, or you may become distant from your friends or family. As gambling becomes a bigger and bigger part or your life, it becomes even harder to give it up.
The strained relationships that result from a gambling addiction are incredibly challenging, too. You may feel like you need to lie to your loved ones to conceal your gambling behavior. When they express concern or draw attention to the addiction, you might lash out in anger or distance yourself from the relationship. The resulting social isolation can have a terrible impact on your mental health.

Treating Gambling Addiction With Therapy

Menachem Psychotherapy Group provides therapy for gambling addiction. Our gambling addiction therapists can help you explore how gambling has affected your life and how you can overcome the addiction. By working through the addiction with a professional, you set yourself up for long-term success.
Therapy is a highly personal experience, so you and your counselor can develop an approach that works best for your needs. Many people use cognitive behavioral therapy to treat their gambling problem, which is an exploration of how your thoughts, beliefs, and behaviors connect. Your therapist will help you recognize the unhealthy thinking patterns that drive your behaviors. Then, you can replace these negative thoughts with positive, constructive thoughts. As a result, the desire to engage in unhealthy behaviors decreases.

Some people also participate in family or relationship counseling as they work through their addiction. A gambling addiction can significantly impact your relationship with your loved ones, so addressing the concerns in your family structure is vital. Counseling can be a great opportunity for your loved ones to express how the addiction has affected them. Then, everyone can work together to heal the bonds that have been disrupted by the addiction.

A gambling addiction can destroy your mental health, your relationships, and your finances, but help is available. If you’re looking for a gambling addiction therapist in Los Angeles, Menachem Psychotherapy Group is here to help. You can contact us today to learn more about therapy for gambling addiction.

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