Treatment for Addiction
Because pathological gamblers have a much higher rate for suicide attempts than other substance users, it is advisable to seek professional medical help should any of the symptoms be gleaned from anyone. Other people acting on behalf of the addict may be vital, because many people with addiction may refuse to or be incapable of recognizing their problem. Friends and family must then be willing to monitor anyone in their circle who enjoys gambling and be on the look out for the telling signs of a pathological addiction to gambling.
Treatments for problem and pathological gamblers, however, are similar to those used for addicts of substance abuse. Therapies—either psychotherapy or group therapy—are available for gamblers. Psychotherapy may aid the addict in recognizing and acknowledging their problems and help them wean out of their addiction by refocusing their priorities. Group therapy, on the other hand, provides a network of people who understand his predicament and are willing to offer their support for the hardships he may have to go through in order to recover. Group therapy is very powerful in helping the addict realize the severity of his or her problem, and reduce the shame in admitting the addiction, seeing that other people like his or her self can suffer the same, too.
Residential treatment in non-hospital environments are also possible, and is reminiscent of the many rehabilitation centers for substance abuse. In this situation, a program is created for the recovering addict to help wean him or her from the addiction. To aid with the difficulties of the treatment, staff and medically-trained personnel are on-call 24 hours a day. Residential treatments are preferred by those who see the need for a change in environment to catalyze treatment. Those who use residential treatments see behavior as being affected directly by the environment a person is exposed to. Seclusion, isolation, and protection provided by residential treatment centers, coupled by their personalized services and completeness of comforts make it one of the more popular options.
In-patient treatment in hospitals is also available, with patients being provided with medical stabilization and therapeutic exercises. As is true of hospitals, this sort of treatment creates a medically protective environment where physiological and psychological treatments are used hand-in-hand to help combat gambling addiction. Because treatment is integrated with other hospital services, a psychiatric diagnosis and treatment may be used to reinforce and support the physical therapy provided in the hospital. Moreover, in-patient treatment encourages patients to get to know other patients and interact during treatments, exposing the recovering gambler to an environment of care and support for other people.
Unique to pathological gambling are gambling addiction specialists. Gambling addiction specialists provide counseling for those who see gambling addiction as a problem they may be suffering from. These counselors are usually accredited by psychological associations in the country or in the state.
In choosing a program to treat a gambling addiction, there are three things that must be taken into consideration.
First, the facility, facilitator of therapy, or the counselor must be duly accredited by the national or local accrediting organization for psychological disorders. This is the only way to make sure that there have been external checks assuring the quality of treatment to be provided.
Second, the treatment must have a specific program targeting an addiction to gambling. This program, with its set of objectives, success indicators, and activities, must be able to target the various problem areas created by gambling addiction—be it legal, emotional, conjugal, or financial. This helps assure that the treatment is designed to really help solve the addiction and its consequences, and has adequately identified goals and means to achieve those goals.
Last, the facility must have at least one fully accredited Gambling Counselor on duty round the clock. This assures that the pathological gambler seeking treatment is able to get qualified assistance and support at any point in time during his or her treatment and recovery.
In addition, it will not hurt doing some homework and looking at the track record of the treatment center in dealing with gambling-related addiction. Referrals from other people—doctors, therapists, psychiatrists, or even other participants in group therapies may be instrumental in determining the suitability of the program. From person-to-person referrals, opinions and experiences not expressed in brochures and pamphlets may help in making the decision as to which treatment option is best. Looking at long-term support and monitoring from the treatment option chosen is also recommended, because like with all other addictions, gambling addiction may be triggered by many unforeseen events. Long-term support and monitoring may help keep track and make sure that these so-called triggers do not cause a return to this pathological lifestyle.