Gambling Addiction Help in Cape Town

Recovery Direct provides comprehensive therapeutic care for individuals suffering from compulsive gambling disorders and associated mental health conditions that commonly which also includes food disorders, sex, depression, trauma and anxiety.

Gambling addiction is a compulsive, ongoing craving to participate in games of chance and betting money on the unpredictable outcome of events in pursuit of excitement, rather than financial gain. Card games and gambling machines are popular playgrounds for the affected, but they can be easily lured into any type of gambling.

Problem gamblers are constantly seeking new excitement (called a “kick” or “ecstasy”) in the form of new games and bigger bets. When they try to stop gambling, they become restless and irritable.

The addiction is fairly common, but it remains poorly understood by the public and people living with it. Because there is no substance abuse or visible defect, observers often struggle to understand the illogical “refusal” of the person to “simply stop”.

The affected gamblers are victims of an inherent, recurrent compulsion to gamble repeatedly. Even when they know it has a destructive impact on their lives, they find it very hard to resist the temptation.

The impulses that cause addictive gambling are difficult to control. They can affect the daily life of the person so intensely that all other aspects of their lives, including relationships with other people, become secondary to the pursuit of gambling.

Pathological gambling falls under the same category of impulse control disorders as kleptomania and pyromania, but without additional disorders. Although finances are at stake, it is the act, itself, that provides the “reward”, rather than winning money. Winning or losing is less important than satisfying the impulse to play.

It is not easy for others to identify or intervene on behalf of a compulsive gambler. They usually cover up their gambling problem and accumulate massive debt in the process. It is only at a late stage that their problems may force them to confess. Suicide is not uncommon in cases where help was ignored.

Take a gambling addiction test and see if you exhibit problem gambling symptoms

  • Do you sometimes gamble secretly?
  • Have you tried to stop gambling without success?
  • Are the consequences of your gambling sliding out of your control?
  • Do you have moments of doubt or concern about your gambling?
  • Do your money losses increase the more you play?
  • Do you sometimes borrow money for gamblng?
  • Do you avoid thoughts about the amounts that you are losing?
  • Has your gambling led to neglect of other interests or relationships?
  • Have you been warned or confronted about your gambling?
  • Do you gamble to escape from the challenges of daily life?
  • Do you think continued gambling will benefit you?

If you answered “yes” more often than “no”, you may have a problem.

Four common traits of compulsive gamblers:

  • A belief that a specific strategy or system can beat the odds.
  • Indifference about the odds of winning and the consequences of the loss.
  • A feeling that only gambling can bring relief from their daily difficulties.
  • Inability to reduce or stop gambling on their own.

Prevalence of Problem Gambling

In general, gambling is a localised trend, subject to many factors, such as country, laws, customs, finances, ease of access to gambling venues, the internet, etc. For addicts, this is not very relevant, as they are always compelled to find ways to satisfy the craving, regardless of their locale.

Due to its nature, gambling can be practised in a variety of settings and ways, either publicly or secretly. In most countries, gambling is widespread and easily accessible.

Gamblers will join any available game, but research shows that addicts prefer “fast” games. They are more likely to lose money in roulette, slot machines and card games, where the cycles end quickly and there is a constant temptation to play again and again, as opposed to national lotteries, where there is a long waiting period.

One exception to the preference for “fast” gaming, is horse racing, an industry that involves a level of skill and knowledge that some addicts believe they are good at. These gamblers use their “expertise” and the entrenched prestige of this industry to rationalise their participation.

Gambling addiction is widespread in terms of age, gender, social status and income. It is present in every level of society.

Treatment of pathological gambling

Cognitive behavioural therapy combats gambling related symptoms. It identifies mental processes that increase vulnerability. In addition, it teaches skills that prevent relapses, improves assertiveness, rejection of temptation and problem solving. It also reinforces the pursuit of positive activities and interests to fill the vacuum left by withdrawal from gambling.

There is evidence that certain prescription medications also help with the treatment of pathological gambling, but medication without therapy is akin to treating the leaves and not the roots. Under proper guidance, medication can be used as an extra layer of defence.

Visit our gambling addiction treatment page for more information on getting help with gambling addiction and other behavioural addiction disorders. Recovery Direct’s specialist counsellors are able to assist you today.

You are not alone

Do you feel that gambling may have become a problem for you or somebody you care about? You are not alone. Not everyone is susceptible, but nobody can predict the outcome. If you are worried or uncertain, please call us for a talk with a trained counsellor or to arrange a personal interview with a professional therapist.