According to Dr Fiona Weldon of Dublin’s Rutland Centre, the number people seeking treatment for gambling addiction is increasing. It may seem counter intuitive that gambling addiction is becoming more prevalent at a time when people generally have less disposable income. However, recessions are known to have an impact on all types of addictions, and as one of the maintaining factors for any addiction is stress and boredom, it is perhaps no surprise that increased unemployment and financial struggle carry a significant potential for the development of a gambling addiction.
How can gambling be an addiction when there is no substance involved?
Unlike substance addiction, gambling is a process addiction, which refers to the fact that it is the activity itself (in this case gambling) that is potentially psychologically addictive. While addiction is complex and people rarely fall neatly into any one category, broadly speaking there are two types of gambling addicts; those who seek an adrenaline rush, and those who engage in gambling as a means of escape, or alleviation of boredom or stress. The consequences of either addictive drive are potentially devastating and unfortunately most gambling addicts fail to seek treatment until the consequences of their addiction have reached crisis point. As the shame of the secrecy and deception that characterizes gambling addiction can be so great, it may take a broken marriage, bankruptcy, or persistent suicide ideation until gambling addiction treatment is sought.
Gambling addiction can be difficult to spot
Gambling addiction is a highly serious condition, and of all psychiatric disorders, gambling addiction has got one of the highest suicide rates. Addiction is typically surrounded by a great deal of secrecy, and whilst the person is active in their addiction and thus in a state of denial, it is unlikely that treatment is sought at their own accord. Thus family and loved ones often play a vital role in the motivation to seek treatment, but are sadly at a disadvantage when it comes to gambling addiction. Unlike substance misuse, gambling addiction is not necessarily clear for others to detect, although ironically out of all addictions it is arguably the one that has the greatest impact on family and loved ones, whose own financial security and future has been jeopardized in many cases beyond repair.
The H.O.W. of successful recovery
The success of gambling addiction treatment is hopeful, but contingent on the degree of honest, openness, and willingness of the gambling addict. In recovery these three qualities, referred to as the acronym H.O.W. are promoted and considered vital for successful recovery. In order for a gambling addict to rectify the financial losses, the stubborn and dangerous belief that ‘just another gamble’ will clear the debts has got to be replaced with healthier and more sustainable actions. Professional treatment in a residential setting away from usual triggers, provides an optimum opportunity for the delicate journey of recovery to begin.