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Imagine losing everything – your job, your family, your home – all because of an addiction to gambling.

It may seem inconceivable, but for many people, this is a harsh reality.

Gambling addiction is a serious and often devastating issue that affects millions of people worldwide.

Gambling is a type of behavioural addiction.

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With the right knowledge, support, and gambling addiction help, it is possible to overcome this destructive addiction and rebuild your life.

In this blog post, we will discuss the nature of gambling addiction, how to recognise the signs and explore various treatment options and strategies for recovery.

Short Summary

Understanding Gambling Addiction

Pathological gambling, also known as gambling addiction, compulsive gambling, or gambling disorder, is a behavioural disorder characterised by an inability to control gambling habits, despite the detrimental effects on one’s life.

It can manifest in various forms, facilitated by both in-person and online gambling establishments.

The repercussions of gambling addiction can be devastating, impacting relationships, and work performance, and leading to financial ruin.

In some cases, it may even provoke behaviours such as incurring large sums of debt or stealing money to gamble.

It is crucial to seek help, just as one would for alcohol addiction or any other addiction, by contacting a national gambling helpline.

There are many resources available to those struggling with gambling addiction, including therapy, residential treatment and more.

The Role of Dopamine

Dopamine, a neurotransmitter produced in the brain, plays a significant role in compulsive gambling.

Research indicates that dopamine is released in the brain’s reward system when an individual gambles, resulting in a sensation of pleasure and excitement.

This release of dopamine can lead to more frequent gambling as the addiction intensifies, creating a cycle of dependency where the person is unable to discontinue gambling despite adverse consequences.

The connection between dopamine and compulsive gambling highlights the importance of understanding the brain’s role in this complex disorder.

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Recognising the Signs of Gambling Addiction

Recognising the signs of gambling addiction is crucial for the individual and their loved ones to seek help and begin the journey to recovery.

Common signs include difficulty controlling gambling habits, secretive behaviour, financial troubles, and physical symptoms and psychological symptoms such as anxiety, irritability, and stress-related issues.

Acknowledging that one has a gambling problem, whether it’s online or in betting shops, is the most critical step to overcoming a gambling addiction.

Becoming aware of these signs can help individuals and their loved ones take action and seek the necessary support to address the addiction.

Seeking Help for Gambling Addiction

Various treatments and support groups are available for individuals struggling with a gambling problem, including national treatment services, local support groups, and charities.

The first step to overcoming gambling addiction is to consult a trusted individual, medical professional, or support organisation for assistance.

It is important to address gambling addiction just as one would address alcohol addiction or any other addiction, and seeking help is the first step in the right direction.

National Gambling Treatment Service

The National Gambling Treatment Service provides therapy and support for individuals suffering from gambling addiction throughout the United Kingdom, with clinics situated in various locations.

These clinics offer specialist addiction therapy, including behavioural talking therapies like cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT).

Examples of such clinics are the National Problem Gambling Clinic, the West Midlands Gambling Harms Clinic, the East Midlands Gambling Harms Service, and the NHS Northern Gambling Service, which cater to specific regions within the UK.

Additionally, the Gordon Moody Association provides residential courses for individuals who struggle with gambling.

Accessing these services can be a crucial step in the recovery process.

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Gamblers Anonymous

Gamblers Anonymous is a 12-step support group program (similar to Alcoholics Anonymous) designed to assist individuals who are dealing with gambling addiction.

Meetings are held nationwide, providing a supportive environment where individuals can connect with others facing similar challenges.

In addition to Gamblers Anonymous, GamAnon groups are available for friends and family members of those struggling with gambling addiction.

These support groups can offer a sense of community and encouragement for both the individual and their loved ones throughout the recovery journey.

Strategies for Overcoming Gambling Addiction

Key strategies for overcoming gambling addiction include finding healthy alternatives to gambling and addressing underlying emotional and psychological issues.

It is essential to eliminate the components required for gambling, such as access to gambling sites and apps.

Exploring healthier alternatives that can provide a sense of fulfilment and satisfaction without the risks associated with gambling is also important.

This could include activities such as sports, hobbies, or volunteering. Additionally, it’s an additional benefit.

Healthy Alternatives

Engaging in alternative activities and hobbies can help replace the urge to gamble and provide a healthier outlet for stress and emotional challenges.

Examples of healthy alternatives may include outdoor recreation or competitive team sports, discovering new hobbies or revisiting old ones, participating in activities that involve socialising and making new acquaintances, engaging in low-impact exercises like walking or fitness activities, and discovering ways to relax and manage emotions without relying on gambling.

By focusing on these positive pursuits, individuals can redirect their energy and attention away from gambling and towards a more fulfilling and balanced lifestyle.

Building a Support Network

Strengthening relationships with friends, family, and support groups can provide encouragement and accountability during the recovery process.

A support network can offer emotional and practical assistance, diminish feelings of isolation, and bestow a sense of belonging and comprehension.

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We recommend establishing contact with family and friends, participating in a support group, or obtaining professional assistance.

Being transparent and candid about one’s needs and being willing to accept aid from others are essential.

Addressing Co-occurring Addictions and Mental Health Issues

Treatment for gambling addiction may also involve addressing co-existing addictions and mental health issues, such as substance abuse, depression, or anxiety.

In some cases, individuals with co-occurring conditions may require medication, such as antidepressants, to support their treatment of gambling addiction.

A comprehensive programme of gambling addiction treatment, which takes into account these additional challenges, is the most effective method of treating gambling addiction.

By addressing all aspects of the individual’s mental wellbeing, a more holistic and lasting recovery can be achieved through gambling addiction treatment.

Helping a Loved One Struggling with Gambling Addiction

While it is not possible to force someone to stop gambling, loved ones can offer support, encouragement, and resources to help the individual seek gambling addiction treatment and begin the recovery process.

Providing emotional support, understanding, and encouragement, along with information regarding gambling addiction treatments and other resources can be extremely beneficial.

The first step for the individual seeking addiction treatment is to contact a specialist in gambling addiction for advice and assistance throughout the recovery process.

Loved ones can play an essential role in supporting and empowering the individual along their journey to recovery.

Gambling Online: Risks and Prevention

Online gambling presents unique risks due to its easy accessibility and prevalence, making it even more critical to implement prevention strategies.

Prevention strategies may include setting limits on time and money spent on online gambling, using blocking software to restrict access to gambling websites and seeking online support from communities and resources.

The Fast Forward Gambling Education. Hub is one such resource that offers assistance for individuals struggling with online gambling.

By implementing these strategies, individuals can reduce their exposure to the risks associated with online gambling and maintain control over their gambling habits.

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Financial Recovery After Gambling Addiction

Problem gamblers can have trouble controlling money. This can often lead to stolen money and other financial problems.

Re-establishing financial security is a crucial aspect of recovery from gambling addiction.

Financial advisors, debt management services, and support networks can help individuals regain control of their finances and rebuild their lives.

By addressing financial issues and working towards stability, individuals can create a solid foundation for their recovery journey.

Establishing healthy financial practices and seeking support from loved ones can also contribute to a more successful and lasting recovery.


In conclusion, gambling addiction is a complex and often devastating issue that requires a multifaceted approach to treatment and recovery.

By understanding the nature of the addiction, recognising the signs, seeking help from professionals and support groups, implementing effective strategies, and addressing co-occurring behavioural addictions and mental health issues, individuals can overcome their gambling addiction and rebuild their lives.

Remember, recovery is possible, and with the right support and resources, a healthier, happier future awaits.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What is the most effective treatment for gambling addiction?

The most effective treatment for gambling addiction is Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT).

This can help people understand the triggers that lead to their gambling behaviour and provide them with the skills they need to reduce their urge to gamble.

Treatment and support groups are also available to assist those wishing to stop gambling.

Do gambling addicts ever stop?

Gambling addicts can stop with treatment and specialist addiction therapy.

Gambling addiction is an impulse control disorder that requires professional help and a strong support system to overcome.

Treatment options like cognitive-behavioural therapy, Gamblers’ Anonymous and antidepressant therapy have been found to be effective in helping gambling addicts stop.

While periods of remission can occur without treatment, this may not be permanent.

Is gambling a mental illness?

Gambling can be considered a mental illness.

Problem gambling is classified as an impulse-control disorder and can have detrimental psychological, physical and social repercussions.

How to stop gambling?

To stop gambling, please follow the steps below:

It is essential to recognise the problem and understand it in order to stop gambling.

Identifying triggers and thoughts and feelings associated with gambling can help to avoid high-risk situations.

Challenging beliefs and delaying decisions can help reduce the urge to gamble. Recognising the benefits of stopping and finding healthy alternatives can also be beneficial.

Finally, talking to a support person can provide additional help and guidance.

What is the first step in overcoming gambling addiction?

Acknowledging a gambling addiction and seeking help from professionals or support organisations is the first step in overcoming it.

Taking this step can be difficult, but it is essential for recovery.

Professional help can provide the guidance and support needed to make positive changes and break the cycle of addiction.

Support organisations can provide support.

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