Gambling Addiction and co-occurring disorders

People gamble when they take the chance of losing money and any belongings and when winning is decided mostly by chance or luck. Gambling addiction has become a common problem since time immemorial. One might wonder how can plain old betting on a game of cards or anything else be harmful to anyone? There’s a difference. Knowing the difference between harmless gambling and problem gambling is very important.

Gambling addiction is when an individual displays persistent and recurrent maladaptive gambling behaviour that disrupts his/her personal life or vocational pursuits. Any kind of addiction is labelled as such for the persistent behaviour of indulging in any maladaptive behaviour that comes in the way of your well-being that makes you dysfunctional in other areas of your life and pushes you into isolation.

There are many different ways to gamble - betting on card games or betting on any sport, internet gambling and stock market speculation an many more. Gambling can be practiced with anything. For one’s better understanding, understanding the categories of gambling is mentioned bellow.

No gambling, casual gambling, serious gambling, harmful gambling and pathological gambling. Serious gambling people play every day, it is their only form of entertainment but does not come before their family or work. Harmful gambling is when the gambling causes harm to a person’s life; pathological gambling is a matter of concern, this is when the person is unable to control the urge of gambling and indulges in it despite it being harmful to the person.

The rate of co-occurrence of pathological gambling and any other substance disorder has been reported ranging 9 to 30% and the rate of substance abuse has been recorded as 25 to 63%. It has been recorded that among pathological gamblers, alcohol is the most common substance of abuse.

The psychology behind abusing any kind of substance while being a gambler serves to only give a false boost to indulge more in it. Alcohol lowers inhibitions and makes the person impulsive to continue to gamble. Drugs like cocaine may artificially inflate a gambler’s sense of certainty of winning and gambling skill which can lead to him to take larger gambling risks. Any gambler would also resort to using alcohol or any form of drugs as a way of celebrating his win or relieving his sense of depression due to his loss.

One of the most common patterns that have been clinically noticed is of a sequential addiction. It has been recorded that a person with a history of alcohol dependence has also had a large rate of being addicted to gambling.

Treatment

At Hope Trust, the treatment plan for any co-occurring disorder is structured in a way that entails educating the patient of both disorders using standard information at the substance abuse treatment which would be NA (Narcotics Anonymous) and AA (Alcoholic Anonymous) as well as treatment material from GA (Gamblers Anonymous). Group and individual therapy are designed in a way to bring out the link and interaction between the disorders.

In any treatment plan for such disorders, emphasising on the triggers of each disorder, development of coping skills and relapse prevention strategy for each disorder is of prime importance. Along with this, family interventions for the patients and family session which would involve educating the families about the patient’s addiction is highly essential. This would give the families insight on the addict’s issues and help them understand him/her better.

Getting yourself aware of the effects, consequences and types is the key point to treat any kind of addiction. Also knowing that working on your recovery everyday by sharing and attending meetings is paramount in any individual’s recovery.