Gambling

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Gambling is essentially risking something of value in the hopes of getting something of even greater value. For many people, gambling starts off quite fun.  It can be a way to relieve stress, or boredom.  For others, gambling may be widely accepted in their culture or a way to connect with other people.  And winning money usually feels pretty great.

In many cases, the gambling stops being fun and begins to create new issues.  Frequently, a pattern of "chasing the loss" emerges.

 

I incorporate a strengths-based approach to support you and help you define your goals.  Gambling that has become problematic can be stressful and you do not have to manage it alone.

Gambling Disorder

Although we frequently use the term 'gambling addiction', the DSM-5 (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) does not use this terminology.  The term 'gambling disorder' is used, with a range of severity: mild, moderate and severe

What are the signs and symptoms of a gambling disorder?

The DSM-5 lists 9 criteria. Experiencing 4 or more in a 12-month period may indicate a gambling disorder.

  1. Needs to gamble with increasing amounts of money in order to achieve the desired excitement

  2. Feelings of restless or irritability when attempting to cut down or stop gambling

  3. Made attempts that were not successful to control, cut back, or stop gambling

  4. Feeling preoccupied with gambling (reliving past gambling experiences, planning the next experience, thinking of ways to get money to gamble again)

  5. Gambling often occurs when feeling distress (guilty, anxious, etc.)

  6. After losing money gambling, often gambles the next day to get even ("chasing the loss")

  7. Lies to conceal the extent of the gambling

  8. Has jeopardized or lost a significant relationship, job, or educational or career opportunity because of gambling

  9. Relies on others to provide money to relieve desperate financial situations caused by gambling

How Substance Use Therapy in Austin can help you

Most people who struggle with issues related to gambling are ambivalent about making a change.  All too often, this is viewed as a lack of motivation or an assumption that someone hasn’t “hit bottom” yet.  I believe ambivalence is normal and exploring ambivalence together should that be a natural part of therapy. 

 

I work collaboratively to understand you and the role that gambling plays in your life.  We will work together to identify ways to minimize harm caused by gambling.  Then, we will develop ways to implement changes—at a pace that works for you.

What if I have issues other than gambling?

Then you are like the rest of us!  Rarely do we ever have one problem.  It is common for people with gambling issues to also have issues with substance use, depression, or anxiety.  Where we begin and what we focus on is something that we can navigate together.  

For any treatment to be successful, it has to be right and meaningful for you.

 

 

Treatment for gambling

Just like gambling is unique to each individual, and on a continuum, your treatment should be too. Whether you are looking for complete abstinence, moderation or you just want to examine your gambling, you are welcome here.

It is okay if you are still gambling, aren’t sure if you want to quit or are just looking for an alternative to traditional treatments for gambling. 

 

A critical component of improvement is empowerment.  Trying to change your gambling on your own, or feeling like you have failed can make you feel out of control.  You can begin to get some control back.  

 

By using a strengths-based approach and incorporating cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), mindfulness, and harm reduction psychotherapy, you can begin to regain some control over your gambling.  

"If there weren't luck involved, I would win every time."

-Phil Hellmuth