Gambling addiction: how do you identify and how to treat?



Gambling addiction: how do you identify and how to treat?

It can start with an innocent poker game or a small sports bet, but compulsive gamblers develop a fantasy of sudden enrichment and the distribution of money to associates. How do you identify gambling addiction and how do we get sick?



As the severity of the financial results and losses increase, the system of pressure directed at the gambler stops growing. As a result, his stress and helplessness increase the need and the urge to use the familiar refuge – gambling.


How does a compulsive gambler behave?

A compulsive gambler does not necessarily meet the accepted stereotypes. Most of them are intelligent, risk-taking people, most of whom have impressive professional achievements. Many of them function as parents and family members, at least ostensibly high. Those around them feel they are not emotionally available, but the gambler radiates authority, ability to perform tasks, and behavior that seems responsible.

Are you addicted?

What is addiction, how to recognize it and treat it

Hod Katzir

It is caused by a sense of emptiness, which one tries to fill. It can be for drugs and alcohol, but for computer games, work, or unhealthy relationships. Clinical psychologist Hod Katzir explains the causes of addiction and how it can be identified

What is addiction, how to recognize it and treat it


Many gamblers have financial resources, depending on the size of the profits and the size of the losses. Many gamblers come from a managerial, military or sporting background. They are used to high functioning in stressful situations and feel comfortable as long as they have the power and control in their hands.


They tend to have a “short fuse,” tantrums, and threats as a form of expressing anger. Some gamblers feel relaxed as long as those around them obey them and act in their own way.


In therapy, it is often revealed that gamblers come from a background in which they have shown stiffness and high expectations.


The financial price trap

Most of the compulsive gamblers experienced a great success in the past, which was accompanied by feelings of happiness, satisfaction, triumph and a general feeling identical to that of “the experience of addicts to various chemicals. The amount of dopamine released in the brain by winning gambling causes tremendous excitement, and the longing to experience it again attracts the gambler uncontrollably.


Most of the gamblers go through the addiction process with sharp ups and downs, both financially and emotionally. After a round of winnings and losses are usually in a situation where the losses exceed the profits, and at some point tell the gamblers that they will continue until they regain their losses, and the fantasy is that they can reach at least the initial state.


This is becoming a catch, because over time the financial price increases, and so does the price they pay in all other areas of life: the suspicions against them, the feelings of guilt and shame, the secrecy and isolation in their lives.


The gambler adapts to extreme moods of “hi” and depression, as opposed to life without gambling where there is stability and balance but emptiness and a sense that they define as a kind of death. The need to feel clear and strong emotions, even if they lead to lows, tempts and magnetizes the gambler in a way that leads to loss of control.


The greatest difficulty and main motive for gambling is the gambler’s inability to accept reality as it is. The gambler believes that with one big win he can get rich and share his wealth with family members. Some gambler get recognition and admiration, and wants with all his heart to improve the financial condition of those close to him. One of the therapeutic challenges facing the gambler is their difficulty in internalizing the fact that the loved ones love and want their proximity with no financial expectations.


The gambler believes that one big win can get rich

The gambler believes that one big win can get rich



Signs of compulsive gambling

The compulsive gambler is in a state of lack of self-control, and over time the need to gamble is growing.


The compulsive gambler experiences difficult feelings when trying to avoid gambling. Anger, stress, nervousness, a feeling of loss, restlessness, dissatisfaction, depression, and anxiety are common emotional symptoms. This is a withdrawal that leads the gambler back to another round of gambling.


The obsessive gambler felt emotional isolation. He believes that no one can understand him or help him. Many times the gambler believes that the next bet is really the last. The periodicity and circularity of the phenomenon are a catch that without appropriate treatment tends to be infinite.


The compulsive gambler rationally understands the damage done to him. Although the family and associates are opposed and many conflicts arise from his behavior, the gambler can not help but go back to gambling. It acts in a compulsive manner and is controlled by emotion and impulse. As a result, he lives and acts in secrecy and manipulation. Although he felt guilty and ashamed about gambling, these only motivated the continuation of gambling.


Many gamblers take loans from the family and the bank, and sometimes even get involved in the gray market. Complications with the criminal world and difficult pressures to repay debts are becoming a motive for more gambling, out of a fantasy that they will be able to erase their debts.


Family members and relatives stand in difficult situations where they help financially against their will, out of concern for the safety of the gambler. In fact, it is a pit that has no bottom, and requests for repeated financial assistance. What is very confusing about the family dynamics is that as long as the gambler wins, everyone enjoys the income and the abundance, but the losses come with many accusations, anger, and even threats. Until the family and the addict do not understand that total abstinence from gambling is necessary, no change can be seen.


Many gamblers are exposed to criminal involvement, threats, contact with shady people and an unhealthy environment where money and power are the values that link the characters. The gambler perceives himself as different from them, and often gamblers do come from a high moral and moral background, and as a result, gambling loses their authentic identity.


How to treat?

The tendency to gamble will not disappear, but it is possible to reach a situation where the gambler lives a healthy life in a function that is connected to its maximum potential. In the healing process, the gambler understands and accepts that he will never be able to control gambling. This is a complete avoidance and an ongoing therapeutic process in which the patient copes with what drives him to gamble.



The gambler needs to rebuild confidence in himself and his ability to deal with emotions and challenges and with life. As a result, the trust of family members and relatives has also been rebuilt. The gambler learns to direct abilities such as courage, creativity, determination, and achievement into positive channels that serve him constructively.


The mere acceptance of the therapeutic process helps the gambler realize that the fantasy of winning something in an instant is unrealistic. The gambler moves from a state of anger toward himself, guilt, shame and self-criticism, acceptance and learning of compassion, and as he accumulates “clean” time, his self-confidence and self-esteem are strengthened.


As a result, with time the urge to gamble decreases, and the more advanced you are, the stronger the new routine that gambling is not part of.