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Choosing the Top Private Gambling Addiction Treatment Center

How do you choose the best private gambling addiction treatment center? Though many people may not realize that you can be addicted to gambling, the fact is, many people continue to gamble despite significant negative consequences, such as losing their life savings or neglecting their family. The anticipation of winning—or actually winning—creates a rush of endorphins that the compulsive gambler comes to crave. When this happens, finding a good treatment center is necessary to help them reclaim their lives.

You can begin your search online, talk to your counselor about local treatment options, or attend a Gamblers Anonymous meeting to learn more about how others have dealt with their addiction. While specialized behavioral health treatment centers aren’t as common as drug and alcohol rehabs, they do exist. And if a gambling addiction is destroying your life, it is worth finding the help you need.

Americans love to gamble. The spinning wheel, the flick of the cards or the rattle of the dice can simply be intoxicating, and winning a huge amount of money remains the dream of almost every person who has even a touch of money trouble. Unfortunately, most games are rigged, and the wins are few. In fact, according to news reports, Americans lost more than $92 billion on gambling in 2007.

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This represents a nine-fold increase from the money lost in previous years, and experts suspect that an emphasis on gambling as a fundraiser in some states is behind the increase. No matter what is causing it, however, it’s clear that the people who gamble are the true losers, especially if they’re spending money that they do not have in a tough economy, and taking in staggering losses month after month with nothing to show for their expenditure.

Why Do People Continue to Gamble When They Know They Cannot Win?

Researchers suggest that some people gamble because they are physically and chemically addicted to the games they play. The mere act of gambling had changed the way their brains function, and these brain changes fuel a dangerous and growing gambling addiction. Left unchecked, this compulsive gambling can lead to family strife, financial ruin and severe depression. In short, what began as a game could end in tragedy. For a quick overview of gambling addiction symptoms, visit this resource.

The Cycle of Gambling

Some gamblers play games of skill, such as cards or dice, and they enjoy the idea of “beating the house” and impressing others with their knowledge and prowess. Others tend to play slots and games of chance, and these people may enjoy the idea that they are simply luckier than those they know. Both of these groups consider themselves individuals, with unique stories. Unfortunately, the paths they take with their addictions are predictable and they’re often incredibly unpleasant. According to the Arizona Council on Compulsive Gambling, most gamblers tend to follow these steps into serious addiction:

The winning phase: For the first five years, the gambler is rewarded for the behavior with amazing wins of one week’s salary or sometimes more. Some people even win a year’s salary in one game. These wins might give the gambler the impression that he or she is smarter or luckier than other players, and this might encourage the player to take bigger risks. With these bigger risks come bigger losses.

The losing phase: This phase can last longer than five years, and the gambler can face some considerable financial losses during this time. The gambler may begin chasing losses, placing bigger bets in order to recoup money lost during a previous game. The gambler might believe that he or she is just facing a “losing streak,” but he or she will climb out of it. The gambler may need to borrow money to cover losses. The tension begins to build, and the addiction is beginning to take hold.

The desperation phase: The gambler may know that he or she cannot win, but can no longer control the activity. The gambler may spend more and more time gambling, and planning the next game. Financial losses during this stage may be huge. Stealing money may be one way the gambler funds the addiction. The gambler may try to stop gambling, and find that he or she is unable to quit.

The hopeless phase: If the gambler does not get help during the desperation phase, he or she may no longer care whether life continues. The gambler may do illegal things to fuel the addiction or simply to get caught and get help, or the gambler may contemplate suicide.

It can be difficult to understand why someone wouldn’t simply stop gambling in order to prevent these terrible things from occurring. The answer may lie in chemistry. When a person smells good food, hears a loved one’s voice or feels a bright ray of sunshine, the body releases a chemical called dopamine. This chemical is considered the “feel good” chemical, as people who feel dopamine often feel a flush of happiness or joy. When gamblers experience a win, especially when that win is big and it happens early in the gambler’s career, he or she also experiences a rush of dopamine.

As the gambling progresses, the gambler may feel a dopamine rush by anything that reminds him or her of gambling. Hearing the dice, seeing the felt or hearing shuffling cards may cause dopamine to be released. Soon, the body begins to adjust and require more dopamine in order to feel positive and happy. This means the gambler must make bigger bets and get bigger wins in order to feel good. The gambler may only get dopamine through gambling, so he or she may seem low and depressed when not gambling.It might sound far-fetched that a chemical like dopamine could be behind a behavior such as gambling, but consider this: In a small study published in the Archives of Neurology, a group of people was given a drug to assist with their Parkinson’s disease. This drug also stimulates the dopamine pathway. All of these people developed a gambling addiction when they were taking the drug. In other words, the dopamine pathway may have driven them to gambling, as the activity augmented their dopamine production. It’s clear that the pathway and the gambling are linked.

Gambling Addiction Treatment

Gambling addiction is a compulsive disorder defined by the inability to stop gambling despite constant loss and a host of residual negative consequences. A treatable issue, few people get the gambling treatment they need until they have lost almost everything.

Are you struggling with the effects of chronic or problem gambling? Are you ready to take the first step toward getting your life back together? If you can pick up the phone, we can help you. Call now to get the assistance you need to find treatment.

Gambling Addiction Treatment 101

Gambling causes a high in the people who compulsively do it. Chasing the big win is similar to chasing an elusive high through using heroin or other drugs. Every loss is only another reason to win big and every small win is a disappointment because more money could have been won if more had been gambled. Those in need of gambling addiction treatment will:

  • Lie about how often they gamble, how much they gamble, and how much they lose.
  • Gamble more than their extra money. They gamble the rent money, college savings – anything they can get their hands on.
  • Get into extreme debt in order to keep gambling.
  • Gamble instead of keeping promises to family members.
  • Gamble for days on end.
  • Often experience co-occurring disorders like alcohol abuse or stimulant addiction.

Why People Gamble

The National Council on Problem Gambling reports that about 85% of US adults have gambled at some point in their lives. But some people do develop an addiction, and that addiction may take hold surprisingly quickly.

Almost everyone has gambled from time to time, and many people can gamble for years without developing any sort of addiction. For some people, gambling addiction begins when they experience some sort of loss or mental blow. They may have friends and family members that encourage them to “do something for you” and they may gamble for fun. Since they’re pairing a mental problem with an activity that makes them feel better on a chemical level, the addiction quickly takes hold.

Other people develop gambling addictions in conjunction with other mental health problems. A study published in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry found that of those who had a problem with gambling:

  • 73.2 percent were alcoholics
  • 38.1 percent were addicted to drugs
  • 49.6 percent were diagnosed with a mood disorder
  • 41.3 percent were diagnosed with an anxiety disorder
  • 61.8 percent had a personality disorder

Simple addition will demonstrate that many of these people had multiple issues all taking place at the same time. The researchers suggest that treatment for one condition might improve the others as well. It’s possible, too, that these people began gambling due to the influence of these other disorders.

In general, the National Council on Problem Gambling reports that one million adults in the United States could be considered pathological gamblers. This represents about one percent of the population. An additional two to three percent could be considered problem gamblers, that is, people who have a problem with gambling that could grow worse.

Spotting a Problem

People in the late stages of a gambling addiction may be easy to spot, especially if you share finances with that person. You may discover, for example, that your spouse has spent your mortgage payment on gambling, or you may find that your car has been repossessed because the person has been spending money instead of making payments. People who have a problem with gambling might also:

  • Ask for money on a repeated basis
  • Talk often about gambling
  • Seem incredibly happy and positive one moment and incredibly low and down the next
  • Spend an inordinate amount of time gambling, either in person or online
  • Become defensive when asked about gambling
People don’t have to become financially destitute in order to be considered problem gamblers. People who can afford the habit are still addicts.

In order to be labeled a problem gambler, a person must engage in the activity compulsively, whether or not it brings joy. The person is, in other words, unable to quit, no matter what. This could mean that the gambler engages in theft, embezzlement or other crimes to feed the habit, or it could simply mean that the person gambles instead of going to work, talking with friends or participating in family events. People who have a gambling addiction may avoid activities that do not involve gambling, and they may become emotionally withdrawn and isolated as a result.

Getting Help

There are treatments that can help a problem gambler leave the behavior behind. Sometimes, these treatments take place in an inpatient facility, allowing the person to escape from temptation and focus on healing. Other times, the person can receive treatments while continuing to live at home. We can help you find a program to meet your needs, and we’d love to talk with you about these programs. Please call us today and let us help your family to heal.

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