Defining Future Goals and Directions
Before entering Gambling Addiction treatment, compulsive gamblers generally see the future in very short-term ways: When can I gamble again or, how will I get the money to do it? Spouses and family members may move from crisis to crisis and be unable to plan for the future or consider their own needs. Gambling recovery involves changing attitudes and behaviors; it also requires developing an honest understanding of who one is and where one wants to go. Having a purpose and a plan assists in abstaining from gambling and regaining control of one’s life. The planning process is an important cornerstone for the work the client and therapist undertake.
Perhaps the most important way treatment helps problem gamblers is by giving them the support and tools needed to stop gambling. Stopping can be a complex process that involves the tasks listed below plus a few more, such as coping with urges, eliminating financial pressures, and dealing with gambling triggers.
Protecting Family Members from Financial Consequences
Family members are impacted in many ways including damage to financial security and increased money pressures. Spouses and other family members can learn how to manage current financial consequences, prevent the accumulation of new debt, work toward financial stability.
Learning to Manage Stress
Problem gamblers and the people who care about them struggle with many sources of stress. Stress can lead to feelings of anxiety, sadness, helplessness, and hopelessness. Treatment helps them recognize the causes of stress and develop ways to reduce and cope with them.
Adjusting to Life without Gambling
Most people who seek help with gambling problems will try to remove gambling from their lives. For the gambler, this often means developing new interests and letting go of some old ones. For both the gambler and family members, therapy can be helpful in adjusting to a more healthful lifestyle and finding enjoyment through recovery.
Developing New Ways of Thinking
Living with problem gambling often leads to unhealthful ways of thinking. One purpose of treatment is to help gamblers and family members become more thoughtful about what they do and how they do it. Therapy is an opportunity to think carefully about your actions, choices, and options.
Creating Healthy Relationships
Problem gambling profoundly affects social and family relationships. As gambling becomes more of a priority, significant relationships receive less positive attention. Deception, breaches of trust, and financial problems may all damage relationships. When a person stops gambling, it is possible to renew caring and trust, even though those closest to the gambler may be angry and distrustful. Therapy can help gamblers and their families rebuild relationships and make them better.
Recognizing and Dealing with Feelings
Gambling replaces emotions or serves as an escape from them. Therapy can help clients deal constructively with feelings, especially in early recovery when negative emotions seem overwhelming. It can help clients learn to identify how they feel, why they feel that way, and what they can do about it. The capacity to identify and use feelings constructively not only helps clients reduce the power gambling has over their lives but also helps them enhance the quality of life and relationships.