Of all addictions, gambling is potentially the most expensive: an addict need not stop until their very last penny has been lost, and history is littered with tales of gamblers who have squandered every last asset until they – and their families – have been left destitute. Britain’s current gambling epidemic means those tragedies are added to every day – but if you are a problem gambler, you need not become one of them. Help is at hand.
However, finding the right treatment can prove extremely daunting – especially if you’re struggling with the stress brought on by problem gambling. Let us take that burden off your shoulders: here at Primrose Lodge our addiction specialists can direct you towards the help you need so when you are ready to take that first step into recovery you can do so with confidence and ease.
It’s a cliche, but when it comes to gambling if you think you have a problem you probably do… However, there are a number of harder symptoms which may indicate that it is time for you to seek help for your gambling addiction.
Most obviously, if your gambling is beginning to threaten the stability of your family life and the security of your loved ones – for instance, if debt is beginning to threaten your home – you need to stop immediately. Likewise if you have lost a job or a place in education because of your gambling; if you have committed or are committing crime to fund your gambling; or if your gambling has cost you a treasured relationship you need urgent help.
Less dramatic signs that you need assistance in quitting gambling include:
If any of those apply to you, gambling has taken a far too unhealthy position in your life, and you need to make changes urgently.
If you have made the decision to seek help in trying to overcome a gambling addiction there are numerous different options available to you. Not all of these will be appropriate for you, and some marketed over the internet may not be medically approved: unfortunately there is a good deal of misinformation being disseminated. Before embarking on any course of treatment always consult your GP and/or an addiction specialist.
Residential gambling rehabilitation – “rehab” – has long been established as the most successful long-term treatment for addiction of any kind. (“Rehab” describes the process of attending a dedicated rehabilitation facility, and the facility itself.) At rehab gambling addicts are able to receive treatment – including a broad range of therapies – in pleasant, tranquil surroundings in which they can focus entirely on their recovery without the distractions – and, crucially, the temptations – of the outside world.
At Primrose Lodge, our first-class rehab in Surrey, our hugely experienced professional staff have helped countless addicts get back onto the path towards healthy happy lives. Our rehab programme includes therapeutic models such as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), art therapy, meditation therapy, mindfulness and more; we provide bespoke dietary and fitness plans to ensure healthy bodies as well as healthy minds; and, being aware of the importance of loved ones in the recovery process – as well as the impact on them of addiction – we also provide a Family Recovery Programme to ensure the healing spreads throughout the entire home.
Therapy is a vital aspect of addiction recovery, and our therapy includes both one-to-one and group settings, both considered vital so that addicts can gain valuable new perspectives on their addiction; group therapy in particular can also provide an important peer group with whom to share experiences and advice, and from whom to gain support at critical times. Working with others who have also experienced the highs and lows of internet addiction can provide key learnings as well as robust emotional support.
Rehab is not an inexpensive option; while costs will vary considerably from one case to the next depending on the duration of the stay and possibly other factors, and therefore a precise figure cannot be given here, usually cost would be around ££2,750 per week (based on a 28-day stay).
However the effectiveness of rehab is such that that sum may be considered an investment in your future, and the cost of not getting treatment – in financial terms and, more importantly in terms of your mental health, your life prospects, and the well-being of your loved ones – is so devastatingly high that this could easily be considered the best investment in yourself you will ever make.
Some of the advantages of rehab are:
Some of the disadvantages of rehab are:
If rehab is something which you feel may be cost-prohibitive – or if any other reason you would like to explore alternatives – there are a number of NHS services and charities which provide addiction treatment. Your first port of call should always be your GP who can explain to you the various options available to you in your area. If appropriate your GP can then refer you onwards to other NHS services – which may include rehab.
GamCare – www.gamcare.org.uk – provides “information, advice, support, and free counselling for the prevention and treatment of problem gambling.” GamCare operates the National Gambling Helpline and provides treatment for problem gamblers. Meanwhile, Gordon Moody Association – www.gordonmoody.org.uk – provides “residential support and treatment for people who are severely addicted to gambling”, including individual and group therapy.
One of the difficulties associated with taking the NHS route is the length of time it may take to access the services you require. NHS budgets are increasingly stretched beyond bearing – indeed there is no guarantee you will be able to get a place in more expensive treatment options such as rehab – and waiting times in many parts of the country are intolerably long. Unfortunately, this is especially true when it comes to counselling and psychotherapy: once your GP has assessed you and decided you are a suitable candidate for any of those services, he or she will refer you – but you then may need to wait several weeks or even months for a place. Obviously, if you are wrestling with a serious addiction this can be extremely traumatic, and in the intervening period, your circumstances may worsen drastically.
Addiction is a widespread illness and recovering and former addicts are to be found throughout the country. Many get together on a regular basis in fellowship groups to provide each other with emotional support against temptation, to provide advice on continuing to lead a healthy and happy life free of gambling, and simply for companionship and mutual enjoyment.
One prominent fellowship group focussing on gambling is Gamblers Anonymous (GA), which follows the 12-step program which is the foundation of Alcoholics Anonymous (the oldest and best-known fellowship group worldwide) and has helped many thousands of users since its inception. GA provides free meetings throughout the UK and the only requirement for attendance is a dedication to stop gambling. Meanwhile, GamAnon Is a fellowship group for those affected by someone else’s gambling – for example spouses, partners, or other family members – who feel a need for support and fellowship, and/or who wish to help others who are suffering as a result of the gambling addiction of someone they love. GamAnon and Gamblers Anonymous meetings are typically held at the same venue on the same night but in separate rooms.
GA provides a non-judgemental environment in which recovering gambling addicts can discuss their situations, open up about difficult and challenging experiences, and ask for advice on particular situations which they are finding difficult. Those attending can feel confident that those they’re speaking with truly understand what they have been through and the nature of their daily struggles, and may feel much more inclined to speak frankly and place trust in others than they might in a group comprising people who have not lived the life of a problem gambler. They can also develop relationships with people who can act as sponsors or emergency support if they feel that they are likely to relapse: sometimes merely phoning a friend for a chat can dispel that craving.
Some of the pros of support groups include:
Some cons include:
For some people, private addiction counselling proves a very useful option, either following attendance at rehab as a supplement during long-term recovery, or as a way of managing addiction before taking steps to overcome it altogether (this may be useful for very long-term addicts who feel they need a period of preparation before making such a drastic change). Private counsellors can be found across the country and provide various different therapy models, including some especially niche options which may benefit those for whom mainstream addiction treatment has not proved successful in the past.
Private addiction counsellors act as personal therapists, who can be engaged directly or sometimes through a network of counsellors or businesses. These counsellors can be seen at a frequency to suit the addict, but this usually comprises weekly appointments, often of an hour or so at a time. Some counsellors require a minimum commitment – perhaps six appointments – while others have no such limit. Patients usually pay a fee per appointment although other fee models are available, depending on the preferences of the counsellors in question. Some counsellors may offer emergency access in times of great distress on the part of the client; however, most operate only by appointment during working hours.
Pros And Cons
Advantages of private addiction counsellors include:
Some of the disadvantages include:
It is generally agreed within the medical community that rehab provides the best chances of thorough permanent recovery. The provision of a variety of therapy models, delivered in an attractive peaceful environment, provides a holistic approach to treatment which benefits addicts physically, mentally and spiritually; the combination of individual and group therapy gives useful multiple perspectives on addiction and uncovers its root cause, which can then be addressed in a confidential and non-judgemental setting. Primrose Lodge recognises that in many cases the family is key to long-term recovery and happiness and our Family Recovery Programme provides healing for both the addict and their loved ones – the perfect foundation for a return to happiness.
Whichever approach to treatment you choose, fellowship groups should always be a component of your long-term recovery plan, as they provide invaluable peer support and can play a crucial role in preventing relapse. You will feel cravings during your recovery, but resisting them is vital and it is easier to do this with the support of those who have been through the experience of addiction.