When gambling becomes pathological, the problem is deeper than an interest in the excitement of the tables. Gambling addicts generally their habit as a way to dull some form of pain or discomfort. While alcoholics and drug addicts behave in a similar manner, their addictions have a strong physical component. The habit of pathological gamblers is more psychological as they are trying to soothe themselves by pursuing a high that comes from winning a hand, a spin of the dice or a spin of the wheel. The high is short-lived, though, so they must continue to bet to escape their pain.
For this reason, gambling addiction therapy can only be successful if it gets at the root of the pain suffered by the gambler. Most gambling treatment centers use psychotherapy to help compulsive gamblers understand the pain they are experiencing so that they can address it directly rather than escape into a casino.
In gambling rehab, a patient will meet regularly with a therapist, as well as with a group of compulsive gamblers who will challenge him. The therapist will help the patient uncover the pain that is driving him to gamble. The group therapy sessions will force the patient to look at himself because his fellow gamblers will not accept excuses. They have heard and used those same excuses before and know when a gambler is trying to abrogate responsibility.
Compulsive gambling treatment also includes the gambler’s family. They have the opportunity to confront the gambler, but also to express their love and support. They need to know how their behaviors influence the patient. The gambler has arranged his life so that he can escape with bets and often, family members are unwitting accomplices.
While therapy is necessary at gambling addiction treatment centers, it is not sufficient. Compulsive gamblers neglect their own health and nutrition for the sake of scoring the high of a win. Patients must learn how to eat better, get exercise and become in touch with their spiritual side. Some may even need reinforcement of basic hygiene, such as toothbrushing and handwashing. Addictive behavior can cause the sufferer to neglect everything except for the addiction.
Finally, gambling rehab always includes financial counseling and education. Addicts have likely already spent savings of their own and, perhaps, that of their loved ones. They may have embezzled money at work. To repair their lives, they must learn how to manage their money so that they can pay back what they stole and begin to save for their futures.
Gambling addiction therapy is a difficult, but necessary program for compulsive gamblers.