Gambling Addiction Treatment
Pathological gambling is a progressive impulse control disorder characterized by a continuous or periodic loss of control over gambling, a preoccupation with gambling and obtaining money with which to gamble, irrational thinking and a continuation of the behaviour despite adverse consequences.
The pathological gambler fails to resist behavioural impulses, seeking a small short-term gain at the cost of a large and long-term loss inevitably leading to severe personal and social consequences. There are three pathways to pathological gambling:
- Environment and learning;
- Psychological factors such as stress;
- Biological predisposition.
Gambling-dependent individuals will display five or more of the following criteria:
- A preoccupation with gambling (e.g. being preoccupied with reliving past gambling experiences, or planning the next venture, or thinking of ways to get money with which to gamble);
- A need to gamble with increasing amounts of money in order to achieve the desired excitement;
- Repeated unsuccessful efforts to control, cut back, or stop gambling;
- Restlessness or irritability when attempting to cut down or stop gambling;
- Gambling as a way of escaping from problems or of relieving a dysphoric mood (e.g. feelings of helplessness, guilt, anxiety, depression);
- After losing money gambling, often returning another day to get even (“chasing” one’s losses);
- Lies to family members, therapist, or others to conceal the extent of involvement with gambling;
- Has committed illegal acts such as forgery, fraud, theft, or embezzlement to finance gambling;
- Has jeopardized or lost a significant relationship, job, or educational or career opportunity because of gambling;
- Relies on others to provide money to relieve a desperate financial situation caused by gambling.
At the Canadian Centre for Addictions, we treat problem gambling concurrently with our Toronto drug rehab program [substance dependence] as a bio-psycho-social phenomena. We also provide a Toronto alcohol rehab program that works concurrently with our gambling addiction treatment. Many people who come to us may be struggling with serious financial, emotional, health and relationship problems related to problem gambling. Our team of clinicians uses techniques such as motivational interviewing, brief solution focused therapy and cognitive behavioural therapy to address this impulse control disorder. Our treatment plan would include assessment, individual counselling, group counselling (such as an introduction to Gamblers Anonymous), skills training (such as self-monitoring), case management, relapse prevention and aftercare.
Our counselors will help clients identify faulty beliefs about gambling, such as the role of skill, the odds of winning, randomness and their ability to influence outcomes. They will also help clients understand that once money is lost, it is lost, that future gambling is not affected by past gambling, that the more they gamble, the more they are likely to lose and that debts can be paid off in stages. Finally, counseling will help clients uncover and explain those faulty beliefs in a way that helps them understand their urge to gamble and gain life-long control.
If you or a loved one is struggling with gambling addiction, call one of our addiction counselors to get a free screening and assessment.