Gambling Addiction

The signs of a gambling addiction are similar to the signs of a drug or alcohol addiction. The most recent edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) lists some of these signs as a person making repeated unsuccessful attempts to stop gambling, lying to hide the extent of their gambling, and jeopardizing their relationships, job, or education.

Just like an addiction to drugs or alcohol, overcoming a gambling addiction has a higher chance of success if it is addressed by treatment professionals. There are many options for treatment for a gambling addiction, including residential treatment, therapy, and medications.

Preparing To Overcome Gambling Addiction

When an individual comes to realize that they need to stop gambling, there are things they can do to prepare for such a dramatic change in behavior. Closing gambling accounts and asking for a self-exclusion form are great first steps and can be extremely helpful in preventing relapse.

Think of a self-exclusion form like an alcoholic throwing away all the alcohol in their home. The form can be found online; either through your state’s government website, on individual gambling sites, or at in-person casinos, and is a voluntary action a person takes to be placed on a banned list, similar to a no-fly list.

To fill out the form, a casino will require a copy of the person’s identification card and the self-exclusion form, after which the person will be denied entry from the casino in the future. If a person fills this form through their state’s government website, they will be denied entry from all casinos in their state’s jurisdiction. Depending on the state, entering a casino after signing a self-exclusion form can be an arrestable offense, and any money, chips, or other gambling winnings may be confiscated.

Self-exclusions typically last 6-12 months, with some states offering a lifetime option. Most, if not all, major gambling sites and facilities have resources to help assist people who have a gambling addiction. Individuals can also utilize websites and apps created to block online gambling sites. While these are great ways to prepare to make a life change, counseling at some level is always recommended for recovery from gambling addiction.


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Types Of Treatment Options For Gambling Addiction

The following interventions may be utilized when receiving treatment for gambling addiction, in addition to treatment, or as part of your aftercare plan.

Residential Treatment

Thanks to years of research and awareness, residential treatment for gambling addiction is available and operates similarly to traditional substance abuse treatment centers. The length of stay for residential gambling addiction treatment can range between 30 to 90 days. During that time, you will typically stay in a 24-hour structured care facility where you will participate in group sessions, individual sessions, and sometimes other alternative forms of therapy, such as yoga or nutritional counseling.

In addition, residential treatment can help you learn relapse prevention skills and offer you a chance to participate in rigorous group activities, allowing for a safe and comfortable space where you can relate to others who are living with the same issue. During treatment, your case manager will also help with your aftercare planning, such as seeing a therapist for individual counseling, self-help groups, or outpatient programs to help with continued care.

Clinical Interventions

Clinical interventions such as cognitive behavioral therapy, also known as CBT, are the most used form of treatment for gambling addiction. CBT concentrates on recognizing irrational and negative beliefs or behaviors and adopting more positive and healthy ones.

Motivational interviewing is another clinical intervention that can be utilized by counselors and therapists in the treatment of gambling addiction. Motivational interviewing helps to decrease resistance and improve motivation by comparing a client’s goals and aspirations to their actions.


Medications like antidepressants or mood stabilizers can also treat depression, anxiety, or bipolar disorder symptoms that are often associated with gambling addiction. Narcotic antagonists, such as naltrexone, are classified as drugs that obstruct the euphoric reaction brought on by opioids; and, according to a University of Minnesota study “[have] been found to significantly reduce gambling urges and behaviors among pathological gamblers.”

Support Groups

Self-help groups provide a safe and judgment-free space for those struggling with gambling addiction. Utilizing these groups can help achieve and maintain long-term recovery from gambling addiction. These groups also allow members to meet others who struggle with the same issues, and existing members can offer hope, insight, and advice to new group members. One popular self-help group for gambling addiction is the 12-step group Gamblers Anonymous.

In addition to residential treatment options, The International Gambler Counseling Certification Board provides a counselor directory of certified gambling addiction counselors. People can search for counselors using their country, region, or counselor’s credentials. Sites like these can be an excellent place to start for someone who is looking for individual counseling or an outpatient level of care for gambling addiction.

Online Therapy

In recent years, online therapy has become increasingly popular, especially amongst those looking for help with behavioral addictions such as gambling addiction, porn addiction, or sex addiction. Online therapy provides users with much of the same benefits of traditional therapy, however, it can be done from the comfort of their own homes and at virtually any time of day.

Opting for online therapy may also be a great choice for those who may not wish to disrupt their personal or work life, or who may have difficulty with things like finding childcare while attending an inpatient facility.

To learn more about online therapy, get connected with a therapist today.

Insurance Coverage For Gambling Addiction

When a person is ready to attend treatment, they may feel a sense of apprehension over how they will pay for it. Although most insurance companies cover at least some level of treatment for substance abuse, some people are unsure if theirs will also cover treatment for gambling addiction.

Fortunately, gambling addiction has gained more recognition in the past several years, and as a result, more insurance companies are now covering treatment for this issue. The best way to find out if an insurance provider will cover treatment is to have a treatment center verify the insurance benefits for their facility. An individual can also call their insurance company and ask if they will cover gambling addiction treatment and at what level of care they will cover.

Take Control Of Your Gambling Addiction

If you or a loved one is struggling with a gambling addiction, don’t wait to get help. While taking steps like signing self-exclusion forms is an important part of recovery, they don’t solve the underlying problems that cause gambling compulsions. Treatment for gambling addiction almost always requires therapy from a licensed mental health care professional.

If you’re interested in learning more about your online therapy options from gambling addiction, click here.

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