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What is gambling addiction?

A gambling addiction – otherwise known as a gambling disorder or compulsive gambling habit – is the uncontrollable urge to make bets and gamble, despite the negative impact it might have on someone’s life. Gambling addiction carries similar consequences as other addictions like sex, pornography and even substance abuse.

When a person wins a bet, it triggers the reward centre in the brain, releasing a flurry of endorphins through the brain that activate the addiction center, releasing feelings of pleasure and fulfillment. These endorphins are addictive if not controlled, and it leads to someone wanting more.

How to diagnose gambling addiction

According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (otherwise known as the DSM-5), a person must experience at least four of the following nine symptoms within a 12-month timeframe to be considered a problem gambler.

  • Need to gamble with increasing amounts of money to increase feelings of excitement.
  • Restlessness or irritability when trying to stop gambling.
  • Repeated unsuccessful attempts to stop or control gambling.
  • Thinking about gambling all the time and making plans to gamble.
  • Gambling to feel better when feeling stressed or overwhelmed.
  • Continuing to gamble after losing.
  • Lying about gambling activities.
  • Experiencing relationship problems due to gambling.
  • Depending on others financially to fuel a gambling habit.

If you know of anyone or you yourself experiencing more than four of these side effects, it’s time to seek professional help. Rehabilitation treatment programs like Salt Recovery are a great first step. We offer guided, expert and supportive treatment programs that help problem gamblers overcome their addiction.

Gambling addiction triggers

Gambling addiction can happen to anyone. We’re all susceptible to our brain’s reward centre, and many things can happen in life that causes us to turn to gambling as a viable ‘escape’ from boredom or troublesome times. Some gambling addiction triggers include:

  • Traumatic circumstances
  • Job-related stress
  • Loneliness
  • Other addictions and their effects
  • Retirement and boredom
  • External influences from friends
  • Depression or anxiety

There are, of course, many other triggers that might start a gambling habit. It’s a habit that can form in anyone, and at any time or stage of life.

Some statistics about problem gambling

Because gambling is legal, accessible, and in many ways, enjoyable, a gambling problem can start almost immediately in a person. A first-time gambler, for example, could quickly turn into a lifetime gambler.

When considering gambling trends, there are some statistics to be made aware of. For example:

  • The likelihood of developing a gambling addiction increases 23-fold for people affected by alcohol use disorders.
  • More than 80 per cent of adult’s gamble on a yearly basis.
  • As many as 750,000 young people, ages 14 to 21 have a gambling addiction.
  • An estimated 50 percent of those affected by gambling problems commit crimes in order to support their addiction.

Some statistics about problem gambling

Gambling addiction statistics show a high incidence of certain types of mental illness, some of which include:

  • Depression disorders
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Substance abuse disorders
  • Anti-social personality disorder

As with any other type of addiction, a gambling addiction can only get worse when left untreated.

Treatment for gambling addiction

Gambling, like all other addictions, will only worsen the longer a person goes without treatment for it. What might begin as harmless fun on a Friday evening can quickly escalate into a Monday morning gambling session after skiving off work. This is a problem, and it must be treated as soon as possible.

Some treatment options for problem gambling include:


This could be behavioural therapy like Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) or other types of therapy, including psychoanalysis and group therapy sessions. Therapy for gambling addiction is a great way to help someone change how they feel and think about gambling, which ultimately helps them stop thinking about gambling altogether.


Sometimes, problem gambling exists because of mental health issues like depression, bipolar disorder and severe anxiety. Medications like mood stabilisers, then, can help reduce the symptoms of turning to gambling as a way to escape the feelings associated with mental health problems.

Seeking professional help through rehab

Calm and supportive environments, such as those provided by rehab services, can be the perfect thing needed for a problem gambler to overcome their addiction. Often, rehab is far detached from someone’s everyday life and the negative triggers that may influence and fuel a gambling addiction. In a rehab setting, a person can also receive personalised treatment to help them learn the tools needed to overcome their gambling addiction not just in the short term, but for the rest of their lives.

Salt Recovery offers tailor made programmes to help you or your loved one over come a gambling addiction.  Call or expert team today.

Salt Recovery | Gold Coast

Being preoccupied with gambling and always planning to get more money to gamble.

Salt Recovery | Gold Coast

Trying to cut back on gambling but without much success.

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Feeling restless and irritable when not gambling.

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Lying or deceiving family members about money or where someone is going.

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Resorting to illegal activity like theft and fraud to acquire more money to gamble with.

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Putting gambling above everything else.

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Becoming aggressive or erratic in a situation of stress (whether financial or otherwise).