gambling addiction treatment

Gambling Addiction Intervention | Gambling Addiction Treatment

Addiction is generally associated with drugs or alcohol but an individual can also become addicted to a behavior, such as gambling. When you are concerned about a loved one who may seem to have an issue, a gambling addiction intervention can help, particularly as an encouragement for seeking gambling addiction treatment.

Gambling As An Addiction

Just as with other types of addiction, gambling becomes a serious problem when an individual cannot control their actions and the behavior itself interferes with daily life, including affecting finances, relationships, and job performance. Also similar to people who experience other addictions, your loved one may deny that the gambling is an issue for them.

Compulsive gambling affects about 2% to 3% of people in the US. Men tend to develop an addiction to gambling at a higher rate and a younger age than women. Symptoms in women tend to become worse quicker after they develop a compulsive gambling problem.

Know the Signs

If you are concerned that a loved one may have a gambling addiction, watch for the symptoms. These can include:

  • Thinking often about gambling and making plans to gamble
  • Lying to conceal gambling activities
  • Restlessness or irritability when trying to stop gambling
  • Gambling when feeling distressed
  • A need to gamble with increasing amounts of money to feel excitement
  • Repeated unsuccessful attempts to stop, control, or reduce gambling
  • Depending on others for money to spend on gambling
  • Returning to gamble again after losing money
  • Experiencing relationship or work problems due to gambling.

Understand the Addiction

Research shows that people who are addicted, whether to drugs, alcohol, or behaviors such as gambling, share many of the same genetic predispositions for reward seeking and for impulsivity. Someone who is addicted requires more of a substance or behavior and requires it more often to achieve the same feeling of reward as when they first started. They will also experience severe withdrawal symptoms when they no longer have the substance or the behavior available to them.

Some studies suggest that individuals may be vulnerable to both drug and gambling addiction because of the way their reward circuitry works. It may actually be inherently underactive, explaining why they seek the sensations they believe they can achieve with drugs, alcohol, or gambling. Neuroscientists have learned that gambling and drugs alter many of the same brain circuit in similar manners.

Researchers have also identified certain risk factors that may contribute to an individual’s potential for developing a gambling addiction. Those risk factors include schizophrenia, antisocial personality disorder, mood problems, as well as an addiction to drugs such as cocaine and an addiction to alcohol.

Diagnosis and Treatment

Gambling can have devastating effects on the individual as well as friends and family members. It can impact finances, relationships, and mental and physical health. It can also have serious legal ramifications given the financial aspect of the behavior.

When you and your family members plan a gambling addiction intervention, you’ll want to be prepared to offer options for gambling addiction treatment for your loved one. That starts with an accurate diagnosis, which will require a complete psychological and physical evaluation, including a mental health examination and appropriate laboratory tests that will eliminate other potential causes for the behaviors you’ve observed.

Treatment options may include psychotherapy, support groups, a 12-step program, self-help strategies, and possibly medications and financial counseling to help the individual overcome the addiction and be able to manage their life in a more productive way. The good news is that recovery from a gambling addiction is possible with the appropriate treatment.

Plan a Gambling Addiction Intervention

Understanding the underlying causes of addiction and knowing how to recognize the signs are the first steps toward helping your loved one. The next step, particularly if your loved one does not admit to having a problem, is to plan a gambling addiction intervention with the help of a professional. The intervention can help everyone involved as you go through the process of seeking treatment so your loved one can overcome their addiction.


At Whitman Recovery Service, our experienced intervention experts will help you plan a family intervention for your loved one, guiding your family through the process of getting them back on the right track. During the COVID-19 pandemic, we also provide telehealth services for your health and safety. Please call (210) 291-0278 if you or someone you care about is struggling with addiction or mental illness. Our team has the expertise to help your family begin the journey of recovery.