Gambling addiction is a “hidden illness” because, unlike substance addiction, it does not show obvious physical signs or symptoms. Problem gamblers typically hide or minimize the problem. Gambling causes more than just monetary problems. Excessive time spent gambling can strain relationships, interfere with work and/or can lead to financial catastrophe. With the right help, problem gamblers can overcome their addiction and regain control of their lives. The first step is recognizing and acknowledging the problem.
Legal gambling is now an accepted part of the social landscape for many communities. The number of gaming establishments has climbed dramatically in the last few years as state and local governments look at gambling revenue as a means of subsidizing income. Most people (an estimated 85%) engage in some form of gambling, whether by visiting a casino, or by playing the lottery, racetracks, or sports games. Five percent of those people develop an addiction to gambling. Few seek help, and when they do, they often talk about other issues that come about as a result of gambling (i.e., financial, legal, marital, family, and work-related problems).
Gambling affects both males and females. National data suggests that two-thirds of gamblers are males and one-third females. In areas where there are established casinos, this ratio may be different, and at times affecting males and females equally. Internet gambling is on the rise and there is no data yet on prevalence of Internet gamblers.
- Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP) – This is a day or evening program for those who would benefit from a structured group offering education, relapse prevention, and counseling. Groups are structured for two to three hours per day, three to four times per week, for a period of four-to-six weeks.
- After Care Groups – This is for those who have completed an intensive outpatient program. It provides support and monitoring by recovering members under the supervision of a clinician. Groups meet for two-to-three hours once a week, for one year or more.
- Individual, Couple, Family Counseling – For those who are in need of additional services to help restore family life.
- Medication Management – Usually prescribed for those with co-morbid symptoms such as depression or other mental illness. Research is currently being conducted for the efficacy of certain medications or addictive behaviors. Results are inconclusive.
- Gamblers Anonymous (GA) – This is a self-help organization offering a program modeled after the 12-Step recovery program of Alcoholics Anonymous. GA meetings are held at various locations in the community
If you are worried that you or a loved one may have a gambling addiction problem, please call Human Behavior Institute. Contact us; we are here to help.