Paula Kruger

Clinical Psychotherapist & Counsellor

Problem Gambling

Gambling addiction help and treatment

What it is a Gambling Disorder?

Gambling Disorder – Also known as compulsive gambling. This is an impulse-control disorder for when a person repeatedly gambles despite whatever significant problems or distress it causes themselves and others.

Gambling engages people as it is the thrill of winning, which releases dopamine from the reward centre in the brain. Gambling may become addictive requiring ever-larger wins to achieve the same thrill. 

Once a gambling disorder takes hold, the cycle is difficult to break. The disorder may start from desperation for money, the need to experience the highs, the status associated with success, and the atmosphere of a gambling environment. The person can become irritable if they attempt to cut down, then gamble because of the distress. Severe disorders can take hold through financial desperation to recoup lost money.

Even when the person finally wins again, it is rarely enough to cover losses. And even when large amounts of money is won – the person usually gambles the winnings immediately. Aside from significant financial loss.

Excessive gambling can impact badly on relationships. It can also cause anxiety, depression and suicidal thoughts. Physical signs can include sleep deprivation, weight gain or loss ‘headaches’, and other health issues. 

As most people with a gambling addiction do not admit they have a problem, a major component of treatment is helping the person acknowledge that they have a problem.

Gambling Behaviours

With problem gamblers, behaviours present such as: 

  • Frequent gambling daydreaming ie. reliving past gambling experiences, looking forward to the next venture
  • Distress gambling. When feeling down having urges to gamble
  • After losing money gambling, returning to get even
  • Agitation and being angry with others for their gambling problem.

The Gambling Cycle

The thrill of winning

  • The desire for easy money
  • Social status of success
  • Dopamine released by winning
  • Plays again for more rewards
  • Increases size of stakes

Gambling impacts detrimentally in the following ways:

  • Affects relationships
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Struggle with work
  • Physical symptoms 
  • Depression and anxiety
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Suffers withdrawal symptoms
  • Lies to cover the extent of the problem
  • Return to try to recoup losses

Finally the persons’ debt increases!

Gambling is an insidious dis-ease that not only impacts the compulsive gambler, however it impacts the family and others closely involved with the person gambling.

I have been managing gambling programs over the past 7-years, and have facilitated hundreds of people seeking help to manage their gambling addiction or even stop gambling altogether. I would like to address your gambling concerns – which is often a drug of choice to cope with other emotional, physical and spiritual challenges.

Resources also:

Gambling Help Line – 1800 858 858 – this service will refer you to programs to help you to be excluded from the gaming rooms (e.g.; poker machines) at clubs and pubs.

ClubSAFE Multi-Venue Self Exclusion (MVSE)

  • GameCare
  •  Self-exclusion program

ClubSAFE Multi-Venue 

  • Self-Exclusion Program – This program will help you to ban yourself from the gaming areas of clubs and pubs.