Am I a Gambling Addict?

Over the last 20 years or so, gambling has become more popular and much more accessible. The internet has brought casinos, book makers, bingo and fruit machines to our desktops at work and at home, to our smart phones and to our laptops.

While still being out there on the high street, gambling can now be accessed from almost anywhere. People have different reasons for gambling, but generally, people simply want to try their luck from time to time to have fun and with the hope winning.

gambling addictionEven if they do not win, they still have fun trying. For the most part, gambling is just a fun source of entertainment. However, around 1.7% of gamblers develop a gambling problem.

To these compulsive few people, gambling is no longer just a bit of fun, it has become a habit. One which can become all-consuming and turn into very serious problem.

Gambling addiction is not like other addictions. There will often be no physical or obvious signs that a person is a compulsive gambler. However, as time goes on the gambling addict and those who come into regular contact them will start to be affected.

It can wreck their finances, their family relationships, and their physical and mental health. A gambler will develop coping mechanisms to hide what they are doing.

They will become expert at deception and lying, borrowing money from different people and places, they may gamble in different locations or using different accounts in order not to be found out.

 What are the signs to look for?

Dishonesty

People who have gambling problems will try to hide it from the people around them. They will lie to their friends, families, work colleagues, partners and friends in order to hide the reality of what they are doing.

Chasing their losses

Some gamblers are convinced that they can win back the money they have lost and in order to do that they have to keep going back because in the end a jackpot win has to come along (doesn’t it?).

They might claim that once they have a big win, that they will stop. The reality is different and they end up losing more and more. Some will keep increasing their already growing debts.

Borrowing money

When a compulsive gambler runs out of money, they will borrow it from their family, friends, work mates, or even loan sharks, without always admitting the real reason they need it. They may also persuade other people to pay their gambling debts.

The push credit cards limits up, take out second mortgages or obtain loans from increasingly dubious lenders – including loan sharks. They may sell or pawn their or their family’s possessions.

Doubling up.

Just like a drug addict or a problem drinker, gamblers will begin to need more from gambling in order to keep enjoying it. In other words, they have to bet more and more money to get the kind of rush they want. Unfortunately, the more they bet, the more they lose.

It becomes an obsession.

When this happens, gamblers cannot stop thinking about gambling. It occupies their mind day and night. Any reason is a reason to go gambling, and they will try many different ways to get the money they need. Gambling has become more important to the addict than other parts of their life.

They may start to miss work and appointments, or let friends and family down. Gambling can take control of the gambler where once they thought they were in control. Each waking moment may be occupied with finding the time, the money or a way to gamble.

Want to stop gambling but can’t.

Most gamblers know they gamble too much, and want to give it up. They will try to stop and sometimes can for short periods of time. Like someone who has a drug or alcohol problem, they might become restless, irritable and discontent.

They become agitated, or tense if not gambling. So, without any support, they will give into the craving to bet again in order to feel better.

Gambling to forget

These gamblers play to distract themselves and forget their problems, and reduce their stress. They may suffer from low self-esteem because of past events. This can cause stress and anxiety which they find too uncomfortable to deal with and so, seek an escape.

They find that the only time that they feel comfortable is whilst they are gambling. After a while though, the gambling itself causes problems.

Stealing or committing fraud to gamble

Despite their losses, problem gamblers continue playing, and their finances keep getting worse. Borrowing money from family, friends, and co-workers is no longer enough.

To fund their habit and try to solve their problems by hitting the jackpot, they turn to misdeeds and crime.

Believing their own lies.

Gamblers can become so addicted to the game and the hope to win it all back that they fall into ever-deeper financial, social, and professional trouble.

If they have had a big win early in their gambling careers, they may hang onto the idea that sooner or later that big win will come along again and then they will stop. The truth is that even if they win, it is never enough to satisfy them.

Gambling becomes the controller.

Everything about their lives gradually revolves around and is affected by gambling. It puts their families, friendships, studies, jobs, and future career prospects at risk.

Look out for mood changes, anger and defensiveness when the subject is talked about. When a gambler has lost control, they will do anything to protect it from anyone who questions it.

What do gambling addicts bet on?

Some of the most problematic gambling still takes place in the high street bookmakers. Not at the counter, but on the electronic machines or FOBT’s (fixed odds betting terminals). Playing roulette, anyone can bet up to £100 on a spin of the wheel.

This spin takes approximately 9 seconds. Online roulette is similar and likewise online fruit machines or ‘slots’. The intervals between spins becomes smaller, the stakes become higher and the gambler is lost in the chase. Have you noticed that casinos have no windows or clocks in them?

This helps to keep people there, unaware of the time of day passing them by as they play. They are surrounded by comfort and attractive staff who offer free refreshment to keep them at the card table or roulette wheel.

Have a look at these 9 questions and answer them honestly.

In the last year

1. Have you bet more than you can afford to lose?

 
 

2. Have you needed to gamble larger amounts of money to get the same feeling of excitement?

 
 

3. When you gambled, did you go back another day to win back the money you lost?

 
 

4. Have you borrowed money or sold anything to get money to gamble?

 
 

5. Have you felt you might have a problem with gambling?

 
 

6. Has gambling caused you any health problems, including stress or anxiety?

 
 

7. Have people criticized your betting or told you that you have a gambling problem, regardless of whether or not you think it’s true?

 
 

8. Has gambling caused any financial problems for you or your household?

 
 

9. Have you felt guilty about the way you gamble or what happens when you gamble?

 
 

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Detoxification (detox) is the medical intervention required for someone who is physically dependent to drugs or alcohol. If required, medical detoxification would be the first step taken in residential rehab. Detox is used to prevent uncomfortable and dangerous (even fatal) withdrawals symptoms resulting in suddenly becoming abstinent from alcohol/certain drugs.

The goal of a medical detox is to aid in the physical healing required following long term addiction and rid the body of all together of substance whilst providing a cushion for unpleasant symptoms of withdrawals. Detox is not considered the whole treatment for drug/alcohol addiction and it is always recommended that a comprehensive rehabilitation program is used along side to help maintain long term abstinence.

Medication is often required for alcohol detox. If you are dependent on alcohol and experiencing withdrawal symptoms it is vitally important to seek medical advice prior to stopping. There is a long list of medications used when treating alcohol addiction and the exact medication given to an individual will depend on their needs/medical history. Some of these include;

  • Chlordiazepoxide (Librium)
  • Lorazepam (Ativan)
  • Diazapam (vailium)


Librium and Valium are the most commonly used detox medication in the UK. All medication used to help with alcohol detox have been proven to help reduce the effects of withdrawal symptoms.

There are also a number of drugs recombined by the NHS to help treat alcohol misuse. Some of these include:

  • Naltrexone
  • Disulfiram (Antabuse)
  • Nalmefene
  • Acamprosate (campral)

Medication is always required for heroin detox. For someone suffering from heroin addiction, the thought of detoxification (detox) can be exceptionally daunting. Withdrawal symptoms from opiates, such as heroin, can be severe and include pain, vomiting, nausea and shaking.

There are different ways that heroin detox can be carried out, most usually either ‘maintenance therapy’ or ‘full medical detox’.

Attempting to switch from heroin to a heroin substitute, usually on a controlled prescription, is known as Maintenance therapy. Subsites used are most often methadone or buprenorphine.

A full medical detox from heroin will always be carried out in a residential rehab setting and will allow the individual to switch form heroin to a substitute and slowly withdraw completing treatment free of all substances. Someone using a heroin substitute can choose to have a full medical detox at any time, however detoxing substances such a methadone can often add to the length of detox required. Drugs most commonly used to fully detox from heroin are, Subutex, Suboxone and Methadone. Much like alcohol, the exact drugs used will be dependent on the individuals needs/medical history.

Once detoxed from heroin the risk of overdose is much higher following relapse due to tolerance following withdrawal.

The length of treatment in a residential rehab depends on a number of elements. Some substances require longer periods of detox than others.

Private paying patients will also often choose a length of stay that suites their therapeutic and financial needs. As a rule, a full treatment program in a rehab is considered to be 28 days (often referred to as a month), however, treatment is offered in several different ways and lengths starting at 7 days.

Treating alcohol addiction will always require a minimum of 7-10 days, this would be considered the detoxification (detox) faze. The length required for treating drug addiction can vary drastically depending on the substance being used. Detox for Heroin addiction is generally around 14 days minimum, with more time required if substances such a methadone are being used. Treating prescription drug addiction can often take the longest. The time required for treating gambling addiction, eating disorders and sex addiction will be based on the individuals needs.

Rehab programs can be as long as an individual requires but primary treatment is normally caped at 12 weeks, with the offering for further secondary and tertiary treatment thereafter.

*based on average rehab stays, everyone will vary dependant on needs and medical requirement/history.

There is no need for your employer to know that you are seeking help for trauma and addiction unless you choose to involve them with the process. All employers should have a policy that explains what you do if you cannot come to work due to illness – illness to include treating alcohol addiction/treating drug addiction.

If your work absence extends over 7 days your employer is likely to require an official statement of fitness to work which would be obtained from your GP. This would need to supply evidence of your illness as well as any adjustments required for returning to work, fazed return or reduced hours, but does not need to specify in detail the reason why you have been absent.

If you are absent from work for 7 days of less, for example entering rehab for a detoxification (detox) on a Saturday for 7-10 days taking a full week away from work, you can self-certify your illness by letting your employer work you will not be attending work for that period of time. Exactly how an individual would do this would be dependent on a specific companies’ policies on taking sick leave.

Any time longer than 7 days it is likely an employer will require a note from the individuals GP certifying their sickness and a fit note on return. Most companies have a clearly outlined policy on sickness and receiving sick pay so the exact requirement can vary. A rehab will always be willing to advise on time off work.

How much does rehab cost is a very frequently asked question. The cost of treatment can range from £1,000 per week upwards depending on the place, with luxury rehab being the most expensive.

There are free options available on the NHS but the waitlist of those looking for free treatment is longer than that for privately paying patients. Some private health insurance policies will cover treatment in some rehabs around the country.

Choosing the right rehab centre will often be based on priced but it is important to follow guidance on the most suitable treatment centre for an individual’s needs which our expert team of advisers are on hand to offer.

There are certainly pro’s for both treatment near by and traveling for treatment with one of the most asked question being should I get rehab near me? There are rehabs all over the UK and around the world that all offer expert programs, let’s look at how to choose a rehab.

Local treatment

Being close to home gives certainly has benefits. Visitors are normally permitted in rehab following the first 7 days stay, therefore if an individual is in treatment for a length of time longer than that being local will make it easier for loved ones to visit.

Most rehab centres will also provide a full aftercare plan for someone following treatment, this will include ongoing aftercare in the specific treatment centre. Living close by can make it easy to take full advantage of ongoing aftercare. There can also often be the option for ongoing care with an individual therapist, again being close by will allow that treatment to be carried out face to face.

Some individuals wish to be local but are willing to look broader, for instance the greater city of residence (London, Manchester, Liverpool, etc)

Treatment Away

Getting treatment away from home can be very appealing to some. Being out of the local area makes it a lot harder to just walk out of treatment as resources locally are unknown. Some also take comfort in knowing that they are not near home and focus more on treatment.

As the price for treatment can vary so much from one residential treatment centre to another, private paying patients often would rather travel to keep the cost down. Those using private health insurance may also have to travel to find a treatment centre covered in their policy.

When opting for treatment away from home this can be anywhere in the UK and also abroad. Aftercare can still be carried out and very successful using tools such as The Online Rehab.

There is no right or wrong when choosing where to go to residential rehab, but our expert advisors are always on hand to help provide information on all possible options.

Whilst millions of people in the UK have taken recreational drugs (amphetamine, cannabis, cocaine, crack, crystal meth, GHB, heron, ketamine, methadone, and prescription drugs) and drank alcohol not all become ‘addicted’. Most recent reports show that 279,793 individuals were in contact with drug and alcohol misuse services in the last year with over half of that being from opiate addiction and a quarter for alcohol.

There are several risk factors invoiced in addiction and those using drugs and alcohol socially, simply take the risk. These risks are as follows;

Tolerance – basically, if a substance is used repeatedly an individual’s tolerance to it will build. This will result in more of the same substance being required to get the same effect. In the long run this can easily lead to addiction and physical dependencies.

Environmental risks – these can include influences such a peer pressure and stress as well as physical or mental abuse of an individual (particularly as a child). Overall, those who live with frequent pressures and stress are more likely to reach for a substance to cope and are therefore at higher risk of becoming addicted.

Drug type – it is very well known that certain drugs are simply more addictive than others. Using substances such as heroin increases the risk of becoming addicted for need to ‘chase’ a high as well as physical dependency.

Drug administration – how a drug is administered can affect its addictive qualities. A drug injected rather than smoked or snorted will release a quicker and more intense high thus making it psychologically (and in many cases physically) more addictive.

Biological factors – it is now widely reported that being an addict is not only psychological but also biological. This includes your genetic makeup, mental health, sex and age. It is also reported to be 8 times more likely for the child of an addict to become an addict themselves.

Its believed that addiction is approximately half genetics and therefore some are 50% more likely to become addicted than others.

How do you help a loved one trapped in addiction?

The first step is to help and encourage the individual to become willing to accept help. They do not need to be shouting this off the rooftops, but they do need to be willing to go into treatment. There are ways to help someone become willing to get treatment for alcohol or treatment for drugs.

Set boundaries – set boundaries and stick to them. Once you have laid them out follow through with whatever consequences you have set however hard it is.

Stop finances – if you are financially supporting someone stopping these finances can be the quickest way for the addict needing to ask for help. With no money to acquire a substance an addict’s options become very limited.

Intervention – getting together with other family members/friends/colleagues and staging an intervention is often very successful in the fist stage of acceptance and gaining an admission to residential rehab.

You can’t make them quit, this can lead to dangerous withdrawal. Boundaries are very important in helping someone become willing to get help. Unfortunately you cannot do someone’s recovery for them and without self-motivation it is very hard to make it work.

The next step is to call our highly trained advisers 0330 088 9518.

There is a huge range of rehab options available and where to start can be completely over whelming so let us help.