Those affected by a gambling addiction may often have good intentions of stopping. However, once the urge to gamble takes over, little else matters to them and they just do not consider the consequences. To these individuals, gambling suddenly becomes the most important thing in the world and everything else is blocked out. Even if they are aware of what will happen if they lose, they cannot stop until the desire has been satisfied.
As with all addictions, a gambling addiction is an illness of the brain. It is easy for loved ones to tell a gambling addict to simply stop, but it is not so simple for the affected individual. This person may feel the need to gamble occur suddenly, or it can be triggered by something that they hear or see. While they do not have the longing, they will promise the moon and stars and will swear to all who will listen that they will never gamble again. They may genuinely mean it at that time but once they are struck again by a compulsion to gamble, they have no way to control it.
When the Urge Takes Over
Many gambling addicts will experience an urge to gamble when they are faced with a particular trigger. It could be others talking about gambling or an advert for a gambling site on the TV or radio. It could even be the thoughts of how gambling could relieve tension at work or home. Many gamblers say that when they satisfy their compulsion to gamble, it is a way of escaping the pressures of everyday life.
Nevertheless, once the thought of gambling enters the addict’s mind, it is very hard to purge. The addict will begin fantasising about a big win and how this could change his or her life for the better. They will start to think about what they would spend the money on if they do win, and these thoughts will lead to him or her becoming confident about a positive outcome. The individual might be afraid that if he or she does not satisfy the craving there and then, he or she will miss out on the opportunity to win.
It becomes impossible for the addict to concentrate on anything else but gambling, and if anything is preventing him or her from satisfying the urge, feelings of irritability and anger may take over.
Controlling the Need to Gamble
When it comes to tackling a gambling addiction, there are many treatments available. Those who have reached out for help will be taught ways to help control their urges with imaginal desensitisation being one such method.
Imaginal desensitisation is a technique developed by Professor Nathanial McConaghy, an Australian psychiatrist. The method is designed to teach the gambler to imagine him or herself about to gamble before walking away without doing so.
When used regularly, it is effective in breaking the cycle of gambling and physical tension. It is often used in conjunction with cognitive behavioural therapy.
A gambling addiction is like any other addiction; it is a progressive illness that will only get worse if left untreated. It is important that those displaying signs of problem gambling reach out for help as soon as possible because this type of addiction has the potential to spiral out of control and leave a trail of devastation in its wake.
If you or a loved one is suffering from an addiction to gambling, you can call Addiction Helper today for advice and support. We have information regarding the various treatments available for all types of addiction and can put you in touch with the organisations providing these treatments.