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What is a 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 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 release feelings of pleasure and fulfilment. These endorphins are addictive if not controlled, and it leads to the person 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 or anyone you know is experiencing more than four of these side effects, it’s important to seek professional help. Addiction treatment programs like Sydney Detox and Rehab 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 cause us to turn to gambling or any addiction 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 to many, enjoyable, a gambling problem can start almost immediately in a person. A first-time gambler, for example, could quickly turn into a lifetime gambler once they experience a win and rush of endorphins.

When considering gambling trends, there are some statistics to be made aware of;

  • 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.

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:


SDR uses therapy like Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) and hypnotherapy, 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. Hypnotherapy – SDR offers hypnotherapy for gambling addiction treatment.


Sometimes, problem gambling exists because of mental health issues like depression, bipolar disorder and severe anxiety. Medications like mood stabilisers, 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 addiction treatment programs

Calm and supportive environments like rehab 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.

Hypnotherapy for Gambling

Hypnotherapy, a therapeutic method that involves guided hypnosis, has been employed to treat various behavioral and psychological disorders, including gambling addiction. The underlying principle of hypnotherapy is to access the subconscious mind directly, where many of our habits, beliefs, and automatic responses reside. Here’s how hypnotherapy may help with gambling addiction:

Hypnotherapy can help reframe Unhelpful beliefs whereby the subconscious mind holds many of the beliefs that drive our behaviors. Someone addicted to gambling might harbor beliefs such as “Gambling is my only escape,” or “I’ll win big next time.” Through hypnosis, these deep-seated beliefs can be identified and restructured into healthier, more positive ones.
In a hypnotic state, patients can be guided to visualize themselves resisting the urge to gamble, enjoying alternative activities, or experiencing the benefits of a gamble-free life. These positive visualisations can help instill new patterns of behavior and boost self-confidence.

Through hypnosis, the therapist might anchor feelings of discomfort, unease, or even disgust to the thought of gambling. This can make the idea of gambling less appealing. The therapist ca create associating Negative Feelings with Gambling which may help to stop gambling.
Many times, addictions are symptoms of deeper, unresolved issues and through hypnotherapy you may be able to access the root cause. Through hypnotherapy, it’s possible to uncover underlying traumas, emotional wounds, or events that might have contributed to the development of the addiction. Addressing these root causes can be instrumental in achieving long-term recovery.

Hypnotherapy can be used to strengthen a person’s resolve and willpower, making it easier for them to resist urges and stick to their recovery goals.
Stress and anxiety are common triggers for many addicts. Hypnotherapy can equip individuals with relaxation techniques, reducing the likelihood of resorting to gambling as a means of escape.

Post-Hypnotic Suggestions may also be helpful in aiding treating the gambling addiction. These are recommendations that the therapist introduces into the subconscious mind of the patient during hypnosis. They are designed to influence the patient’s behavior after the session has concluded. For instance, a suggestion might be introduced such as “Whenever you think of gambling, you’ll immediately feel a strong desire to engage in a healthier activity.”
Hypnotherapy can also help individuals become more aware of their triggers and patterns of thought that lead to the urge to gamble.

It’s essential to note that hypnotherapy might not be effective for everyone, and its efficacy can vary based on the individual’s susceptibility to hypnosis, the skill of the therapist, and the specific techniques used. Additionally, hypnotherapy is typically used as a complementary treatment alongside other therapeutic approaches, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), counseling, and support therapies.

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