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Drug and alcohol addictions are well-known for the damage they cause, but people can struggle with other addictions, too. Known as process addictions, this includes a compulsive need to engage in certain behaviors like gaming, shopping, or sex no matter the cost, with consequences that are severe enough to interfere with daily life. One of the most common and harmful process addictions is a gambling addiction, which can wreak havoc on a person’s finances, relationships, career and more.

At The Guest House, we know how serious a gambling addiction can be. In addition to the financial strain it can cause, compulsive gambling can cost you your mental, physical and emotional health as the stress takes a toll on your mind and body. And if you’ve borrowed money from friends or family to cover your losses, it can jeopardize your relationships, too. But if you feel like you’ve hit bottom and that all hope is lost, we can help. It’s never too late to break the cycle and build a better future by taking the first steps toward long-term recovery.

Gambling Addiction Treatment at The Guest House

A common misconception about gambling addiction is that it’s only a problem if you’re losing. In reality, gambling addiction is an emotional disorder that goes beyond financial losses. While most compulsive gamblers will experience financial difficulties as a result of their behavior, the amount of money lost doesn’t determine the severity of a gambling addiction — rather, it’s the overall negative impact on a person’s life and the inability to stop that indicates a need for help.

At The Guest House, we know that compulsive gambling is a complex and difficult behavior to overcome. The thrill of gambling is often used as a distraction to cope with stress or trauma, but can quickly spiral out of control as addiction takes hold. And since gambling addiction often co-occurs with mental health or substance use disorders, comprehensive treatment is needed to break the cycle and establish healthier behaviors.

That’s why we combine highly-personalized treatment plans with conventional and experiential therapies that address the mental, physical and emotional impact of problem gambling. Our holistic approach can provide the tools needed to implement new coping skills, better understand harmful behaviors and overcome the compulsive need to gamble. By looking at all aspects of a gambling disorder, we can help you or your loved one find lasting solutions for a life free from the highs and lows of a gambling addiction.

Learn More About Process Addictions

Unlike substance abuse, which is fairly straightforward and easy for others to understand, process addictions are more complicated. Rather than getting hooked on drugs or alcohol, an individual with a process addiction is addicted to the feeling they experience when performing a certain behavior or action. This includes addictions to gambling, sex, shopping or video games, as well as disordered eating and self-harm. With process addictions, the “substance” or “high” involved is actually a surge of feel-good chemicals released in the brain when engaging in a certain action or behavior. When we look at process addictions, we look for many of the same markers or signs that are present in substance use disorders, including:

  • Focusing more time and attention on certain things than you should
  • Wanting to cut back or stop but not managing to, despite repeated efforts
  • Experiencing cravings and the urge to engage in a behavior
  • Inability to manage duties and responsibilities at home, work or school
  • Unwilling to change a harmful habit or behavior regardless of the problems it causes
  • Giving up important social, occupational and recreational activities due to a process addiction
  • Sacrificing personal relationships to engage in certain behaviors
  • Increasing the intensity or frequency of a behavior to get the same effect (tolerance)
  • Being unable to abstain without discomfort, distress and other symptoms (withdrawal)

In a process addiction, these symptoms apply to a compulsive behavior that an individual cannot control. While gambling addiction is one of the more well-known examples of a process addiction, some other examples include the following behaviors, listed below.

  • Disordered Eating — Unhealthy behaviors related to food. This can include overeating, anorexia or restrictive eating, bulimia or purging, binge eating, using exercise excessively to burn calories and even compulsive dieting.
  • Sex Addiction — Compulsions related to sex, which can include seeking out affairs, excessive masturbation or pornography use, sexual or romantic anorexia, frequent anonymous sex and the urge to engage in risky sexual behaviors. When sex becomes a compulsive behavior or is used in an addictive way, it can be considered a sex addiction.
  • Self-Harm — This behavior includes cutting, burning, hair pulling or any other harmful acts used as a coping mechanism. Some feel that when they self-harm, they are escaping an internal numbness and prefer the pain over what they’re feeling otherwise, while others self-harm as a form of punishment or to express the pain they feel inside.
  • Video Game Addiction — When gaming becomes compulsive and excessive to the detriment of the individual, it can be considered an addiction. Gamers often lose time gaming for long periods, not realizing that hours have gone by.
  • Internet Addiction — An addiction to social media and the internet is similar to compulsive gaming when use becomes harmful and begins to interfere with daily life.

There are a number of other examples of process addictions, and anything that fits the criteria mentioned above can be an addiction.