More Than Drugs: Gambling Addiction and Other Compulsions

man with gambling addiction in casino playing slots
man with gambling addiction in casino playing slots

What is the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the word addiction? Most people will say “drugs”. Sometimes people jokingly refer to their “addiction” to a television show or something outside the expected realms of drugs and alcohol. But the truth is that addiction is not limited to substances alone and process addictions are no laughing matter. 

As anyone who has lived with an addiction to gambling or addiction to sex or pornography can tell you, an addiction doesn’t have to involve drugs of any kind to wreak havoc in your life. This Cottonwood Tucson article explores process addictions and why gambling addiction treatment is something to deeply consider. 

What is a Process Addiction?

Process addictions, also known as behavioral addictions, involve compulsions to engage in activities (as opposed to using a substance) These behaviors provide a ‘high’ similar to that experienced in substance addiction. However, instead of being physically addicted to a substance, the person becomes psychologically dependent on the feelings derived from the behavior. 

Examples of process addictions include:

  • Gambling addiction
  • Sex & love addiction
  • Shopping addiction
  • Video game addiction
  • Exercise addiction

How Are Gambling Addiction and Other Process Addictions Treated?

All addictions share a certain number of things in common. While the lives and consequences experienced by people with different process addictions may vary, there are many parallels in terms of how they are treated. When it comes to addiction of any kind, behaviors are the problem and the solution begins with awareness and learning how your thought processes led you to this place of addiction. 

It often helps to see a mental health professional so a formal diagnosis can be made. Even if you feel pretty certain that you’re addicted to gambling, sex, or another behavior, there’s often more going on. People with process addictions or other compulsions often have co-occurring conditions like a substance use disorder. 

Process Addictions and Dual Diagnosis Treatment

Sometimes the process addiction is a co-occurring condition. For example, someone who has alcoholism may also develop a gambling addiction. He or she may be able to control their gambling compulsion when they are sober, but once they start drinking they lose control over both their alcohol consumption and any resistance to the gambling compulsion. 

Whether or not a co-occurring condition is present, a mental health professional who diagnoses a process addiction can help you take the first steps toward recovery. That may include residential mental health treatment followed by outpatient treatment and counseling. Psychotherapy modalities like Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Dialectical Behavioral Therapy often prove very helpful in treating people with behavioral addictions. These may be employed on either an inpatient or outpatient basis (or both). 

Each individual has a unique experience and set of needs. It is helpful to remember though, that you cannot get “too much help” for a problem. It’s only possible to get “not enough help”. So avail yourself of whatever help is available and dive deep into recovery. 

Seeking professional mental health treatment is a good idea because:

  • Process addictions like compulsive gambling can be both very damaging and very difficult to stop in their tracks.
  • People with behavioral addictions often have substance use disorders or other mental health conditions that coincide with the compulsion and can benefit from treatment as well. 
  • Residential treatment for addiction is generally the most effective way to jump-start your move into recovery and avoid obstacles early on. 

What Gambling Addiction Treatment Requires

With football season underway, it seems prudent to talk a bit more about one process addiction in particular. Gambling addiction can lead to devastating consequences for families and individuals. Aside from the obvious financial damages someone addicted to gambling can incur, there are numerous other “occupational hazards” that can follow in the wake of a gambling addiction. Gambling addiction manifests when the thrill of placing bets and risk-taking takes over one’s life, leading to financial ruin and damaged relationships.

Gambling addiction treatment starts with awareness. Helping a person become more aware of their behaviors and triggers to gamble, for example. As mentioned earlier, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy or CBT is widely considered to be the “gold standard” among modern psychotherapy models. It has an excellent track record in helping people with both substance use disorders and process addictions gain insight into their own behaviors and their origins. 

More specifically, CBT helps individuals understand the thought processes that lead to compulsive gambling and develop new coping strategies. It aims to change the erroneous beliefs and perceptions about gambling that help fuel the addiction. In addition to residential and outpatient mental health treatment, there are also support groups for people living with a gambling addiction. 

Gambling Addiction Treatment at Cottonwood Tucson

Cottonwood Tuscon has been the southwest’s premier mental health treatment center for over 25 years. From the day we opened our doors, our mission has been to deliver the highest quality evidence-based treatment available for mental health disorders and addictions
Our private, luxury program is situated on 35 beautiful acres in the Sonoran Desert foothills. If you or someone you love could benefit from the exemplary care and innovative treatment that made Cottonwood famous, let’s start a conversation. Call us anytime, 24 hours a day at (888) 433-1069.

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