Treatment

Gambling disorder tends to run in families, but environmental factors have also contributed to this addiction. Symptoms of this disorder can begin as early as adolescence or as late as older adulthood.

This cycle of behavior will lead to negative consequences that will seriously impact their physical, emotional, mental, and even financial health. Maui implements a holistic approach to treating gambling disorder, incorporating cultural awareness, mindfulness and cognitive-behavioral therapies, as well as community support systems.

What Is Gambling Disorder?

Gambling addiction, also known as compulsive gambling or gambling disorder, is a type of impulse-control disorder that continues to affect more families every year. Individuals with a gambling addiction have been seen to have little to no control when it comes to the impulse to gamble.

Gambling is the focus for those addicted, even when they know and understand their gambling is hurting themselves and those around them. Those struggling with a gambling addiction are often acutely aware of the consequences of gambling, but the impulse overpowers they’re will to stop.

Those with gambling addiction keep the game going and stakes high whether they are up, down, impoverished, extremely happy, or even depressed. Even when the odds are against them, people with a gambling addiction find it difficult to lay down their hands.

People who have a gambling addiction cannot just stop when they lose money. They are taken over by the feeling of needing to recover what they have lost. In many cases of gambling addiction, the person will have lost more than they thought, will become overcome with negative thoughts and emotions, and will do anything to recover the money.

This cycle of behavior will lead to negative consequences that will seriously impact their physical, emotional, mental, and even financial health.

Signs and Symptoms of Gambling Addiction

  • Needing to gamble with an increasing amount of money to achieve the desired excitement
  • Restless or irritable when trying to cut down or stop gambling
  • Repeated unsuccessful efforts to control, cut back on or stop gambling
  • Frequent thoughts about gambling
  • Often gambling when feeling distressed
  • After losing money, gambling, often returns to get even
  • Lying to conceal gambling activity
  • Jeopardizing or losing a significant relationship, job, or educational/career opportunity because of gambling
  • Relying on others to help with money problems caused by gambling
  • Resorting to theft or fraud to get gambling money

Research conducted at the University of Buffalo found the following:

An estimated 750,000 of America’s youth — between the ages of 14 and 21 — are problem gamblers (they gamble more than intended or steal money to support gambling).

Problem gambling is considerably more common than alcohol dependence among U.S. adults (21 and older).

Individuals living in disadvantaged neighborhood have a 90% increase in the odds of being a problem or pathological gambler.

Frequent gambling is twice as great among men (28%) than women (13%).

Myths and Facts about Gambling Problems

Myth

Problem gambling is not a problem if the gambler can afford it.

Fact

Problems caused by excessive gambling are not just financial. Too much time spent on gambling can also lead to relationship and legal problems, job loss, mental health problems including depression and anxiety, and even suicide.

Myth

Having a gambling problem is just a case of being weak-willed, irresponsible, or unintelligent.

Fact

Gambling problems affect people of all levels of intelligence and all backgrounds. Previously responsible and strong-willed people are just as likely to develop a gambling problem as anyone else.

Myth

Partners of problem gamblers often drive their loved ones to gamble.

Fact

Problem gamblers often try to rationalize their behavior. Blaming others is one way to avoid taking responsibility for their actions, including what’s needed to overcome the problem.

Myth

If a problem gambler builds up a debt, you should help them take care of it.

Fact

Quick fix solutions may appear to be the right thing to do. However, bailing the gambler out of debt may make matters worse by enabling their gambling problems to continue.

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Amory Mowrey

MPH | Executive Director | CASAC-T | CRPA | CARC

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If you’re struggling with an addiction or know a friend or family member who is, reach out to one of our experts today. We’re here for you.