Compulsive gambling shows many of the characteristics of other addictions. We have developed a special Twelve Step abstinence orientated programme to deal with this problem.
Compulsive gambling starts out as recreational and slowly progresses to the point where it has serious consequences for both the gambler and their family.
As with any other addiction, compulsive gambling is threefold in nature: mental, physical and spiritual, with its main symptom being that of denial and its major characteristic loss of control. The compulsive gambler frequently spends more time and money gambling than they intended and are unable to reliably predict when they will stop once they have started.
Characteristics of compulsive gambling
- Preoccupation: an overriding passion that dominates all aspects of life. The preoccupation transforms the gambler into a withdrawn and moody person.
- Loss of control: not being able to stop or limit the amount of gambling once he/she has started.
- Continuing despite the negative consequences.
Predictors of compulsive gambling
- The compulsion to chase losses.
- Repeated attempts to stop that are not sustained over a long period of time.
- Gambling in response to negative emotions such as stress and depression.
Phases of compulsive gambling
Most compulsive gamblers report that they had a large win early in their gambling.
This winning leads to fantasies about winning more and an attitude that gambling is a quick and easy way of earning additional income.
The losing phase is when the gambler loses more than they can afford and then attempts to recover their losses by chasing losses in the hope of winning back the money.
The desperation phase is when the gambler gets into the vicious cycle of occasionally winning, chasing losses and then suffering more losses.
Irrational gambling begins, as does the downward spiral. (someone already in debt will borrow money or take money out of the house bond to gamble). The size and frequency of bets increase and bigger debts are accumulated until rock bottom is reached.
Programme for gamblers
We believe that the only effective treatment is absolute abstinence and a process of self-discovery and growth which empowers the gambler to deal with life effectively and without resorting to any compulsive behaviour. Both the gambler and the family also need ongoing support to deal with the consequences of gambling and to prevent relapse.
The inpatient programme at Oasis Drug Treatment Centre provides the foundation for this long but very rewarding process of recovery.