Immersive Healing: Inpatient Treatment for Gambling Addiction

Learn more about inpatient treatment for gambling addiction and how it can help those with this condition.

Table of Contents

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Inpatient Treatment for Gambling Addiction: What is Gambling Addiction?

Gambling addiction, also known as problem gambling or gambling disorder, is a condition where people struggle to control their urge to gamble. It is more than just playing games for fun.

It’s a serious mental health condition that can lead to:

  • Money troubles
  • Strained relationships
  • Work-related issues

How Common is Gambling Addiction?

Gambling addiction is more common than people realize. Approximately 2 million U.S. adults struggle with pathological gambling. 4-6 million have mild to moderate gambling problems. These numbers show the significant impact of gambling addiction.1
The amount of money generated by gambling in the United States also highlights the scale of the problem. In just three months, it reached a record-breaking revenue of $15.17 billion. This reveals that for many, gambling is not just a hobby but a compulsive behavior that may need professional help.2

How Does Gambling Affect the Brain?

Gambling influences different cognitive processes and emotional responses. Below are some ways in which it affects the brain.

Stimulates Dopamine Release and Reward Pathways

Gambling triggers the release of dopamine, a feel-good chemical. This creates excitement and makes one keep gambling for more rewards.

Changes Brain's Reward System and Promotes Addiction

Repetitive gambling can lead to changes in the brain’s reward system. This heightened sensitivity intensifies the urge to gamble and makes it harder to resist cravings.

Impairs Decision-Making and Impulse Control

Chronic gambling can disrupt the brain’s ability to make sound decisions and control impulses. Studies suggest that it activates similar brain areas linked to drug and alcohol abuse, making it harder to resist the urge to gamble.3

Inpatient Treatment for Gambling Addiction: Signs and Symptoms of Gambling Addiction

It’s important to recognize the signs of gambling addiction to address it early on. Here are some common signs to look out for:

  • Always thinking about gambling and planning sessions
  • Taking bigger risks when gambling
  • Always trying to recover losses by gambling more
  • Unable to quit or control gambling despite negative effects
  • Experiencing financial difficulties and strained relationships
  • Feeling guilt, shame, anxiety, or restlessness about gambling
  • Neglecting responsibilities and losing interest in other activities
  • Engaging in secretive behaviors related to gambling
  • Lying about gambling activities

Short-Term and Long-Term Consequences of Gambling Addiction

Gambling addiction can have short-term and long-term effects on different areas of life. Let’s take a closer look at the consequences:

Short-Term Consequences

The short-term consequences include:

  • Money troubles and debts
  • Problems in relationships
  • Emotional distress and mental health issues
  • A decline in work or school performance
  • Legal issues and consequences

Long-Term Consequences

Long-term consequences of gambling addiction include:

  • Severe financial ruin and loss of assets
  • Permanent damage to relationships
  • Continued emotional and mental health problems
  • Limited job and career opportunities
  • Health problems and decline in physical well-being

Inpatient Treatment for Gambling Addiction: Risk Factors for Gambling Addiction

Certain factors can make someone more likely to develop a gambling addiction. It’s important to know these risk factors to prevent problems and help people early on.

Early Exposure to Gambling

Exposure to gambling at a young age can raise the chances of having gambling issues later on. Many adolescents start gambling before the age of 12. This normalizes the behavior and raises the likelihood of problematic gambling habits.4

Psychological Factors

Certain psychological traits, like impulsivity, increase the risk of developing a gambling addiction. Those who take risks without considering the consequences are more likely to engage in gambling.

Biological Factors

A person’s genes and brain chemistry can influence their vulnerability to gambling addiction. Some may have genetic factors that raise their chances of getting involved in gambling.

Environmental Factors

The environment plays a significant role in the development of gambling addiction. Being close to gambling establishments makes it more likely for someone to gamble.

Similarly, having easy access to online gambling platforms increases the chances of engaging in gambling.

Family History

A family history of gambling addiction raises the risk of developing the problem. Family genetics and the environment contribute to this higher risk.

Personal and Social Factors

Peer influence, social norms, and lack of support contribute to gambling addiction risk. Personal stressors, financial difficulties, and life transitions can also increase vulnerability.

Inpatient Treatment for Gambling Addiction: Triggers of Gambling Addiction

Several factors can contribute to the development of gambling addiction. These include:

  • Life transitions such as retirement or significant changes
  • Traumatic events or circumstances
  • Job-related stress and pressures
  • Emotional distress, including depression or anxiety
  • Social isolation and feelings of loneliness
  • Co-occurring addictions, such as substance abuse
  • Environmental factors, like peer influence or easy access to gambling opportunities

How is Gambling Addiction Diagnosed?

Diagnosing gambling disorder involves a detailed assessment using criteria from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5).

To receive a diagnosis, individuals must meet at least four of these signs within one year:5
  • Needing to gamble with more money to feel excited
  • Feeling restless or irritable when trying to cut down or stop gambling
  • Trying repeatedly to control, reduce, or stop gambling without success
  • Constantly thinking about gambling, reliving past experiences, or planning future gambling activities
  • Using gambling as a way to cope with negative emotions like guilt, anxiety, or depression
  • Continuously gambling to recover previous losses (“chasing” losses)
  • Lying to hide the extent of gambling involvement
  • Putting significant relationships, jobs, or educational opportunities at risk due to gambling
  • Depending on others for money to resolve financial difficulties caused by gambling

How to Overcome the Urge to Gamble

Overcoming gambling cravings can be challenging. But, it’s possible with effective techniques. Here are some recommended strategies to resist the urge to gamble and regain control:

Get Support

Avoid isolation by reaching out to trusted family members and friends. Connect with others who can provide guidance and encouragement during challenging times.

Delay and Distract

Practice the technique of postponing the urge to gamble. During this time, engage in alternative activities to divert attention from gambling.

Visualize Consequences

Gambling addiction can lead to:

  • Financial losses
  • Strained relationships
  • Legal issues

Take a moment to reflect on these consequences when faced with the urge to gamble.

Focus on Alternatives

Channel energy into healthier hobbies that promote well-being and reduce gambling cravings. Explore participating in recreational activities to replace the urge to gamble.

How to Help Someone with a Gambling Addiction

Helping someone with a gambling addiction isn’t easy. It takes understanding, patience, and the right approach.

Here are some specific steps one can take:

  • Learn the signs of a gambling problem
  • Talk to them without blaming or getting angry
  • Get them to open up about their feelings
  • Suggest they see a counselor or therapist
  • Go with them to their first therapy or support group meeting
  • Be there to listen when they want to talk
  • Don’t lend them money or help pay their gambling debts
  • Help them find fun things to do instead of gambling
  • Don’t leave them alone for too long because it can lead to more gambling
  • Be patient, because it takes time to stop a gambling problem

How to Treat Gambling Disorder

Treating gambling addiction involves identifying causes and taking control of behaviors. Below are some common treatment options.

Inpatient Treatment for Gambling Addiction

Inpatient treatment for gambling addiction offers intensive therapy and support in a structured facility. Patients live in the facility and receive comprehensive care.

Outpatient Treatment

Outpatient treatment allows people to live at home while receiving therapy and support. This option is suitable for milder cases or less intensive treatment needs.

Self-Help and Support Groups

Joining groups creates a supportive community for sharing experiences and learning from others. These groups provide a platform for growth and accountability in the recovery journey.


Medication may be prescribed to manage mental health conditions related to gambling addiction. It is part of a comprehensive treatment plan.

Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy

Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) identifies and changes behaviors and thoughts. It challenges irrational beliefs and builds coping skills for cravings. It addresses financial, work, and relationship problems caused by gambling.

Financial Counseling and Management

Guidance from financial counselors helps address the financial impact of gambling addiction. They assist with budgeting, creditor negotiation, and debt repayment for financial stability.

Components of Inpatient Treatment for Gambling Addiction

Inpatient treatment for gambling addiction has various components that work together to help people recover. Below are some of its key parts.

Individual Therapy

People have private conversations with a therapist who helps them understand why they gamble.

Group Therapy

People join a group with others who also struggle with gambling addiction. They:

  • Share their experiences
  • Support each other
  • Learn from a trained leader

Changing Behaviors

Therapists help people recognize and change their unhealthy thoughts and actions related to gambling. They teach new habits, self-control, and positive things to do instead of gambling.

Family Involvement

Families are involved in the treatment, too. They join therapy sessions that can:

  • Improve how they talk to each other
  • Rebuild trust
  • Be a helpful support

Preventing Going Back

People learn how to avoid going back to gambling. They learn how to:

  • Recognize things that make them want to gamble
  • Manage the strong desire to gamble
  • Stay on track even after they finish the treatment

Holistic Approaches

Along with therapy, there may be activities like meditation, yoga, art, and exercise. These help with well-being and managing stress.

Inpatient Treatment for Gambling Addiction vs. Outpatient: Pros and Cons

Finding the right treatment requires weighing the pros and cons of inpatient and outpatient options. Here’s a comparison of the benefits and limitations of each approach:

Inpatient Treatment for Gambling Addiction

Below are the pros and cons of inpatient treatment for gambling addiction.


Some pros of inpatient treatment for gambling addiction include:

  • A structured environment for focused recovery
  • Intensive therapy and support
  • Peer support from others facing similar challenges
  • Removal from gambling triggers


Some cons of inpatient treatment for gambling addiction include:

  • Temporary separation from home and regular life
  • Limited personal freedom
  • Higher cost
  • More suitable for moderate to severe addiction

Outpatient Treatment for Gambling Addiction

Below are the pros and cons of outpatient treatment.


Some pros of outpatient treatment include:

  • Ability to live at home and maintain daily responsibilities
  • Greater independence and responsibility in recovery
  • Lower cost
  • Ongoing access to resources and support


Some cons of outpatient treatment include:

  • Less intensive support compared to inpatient
  • Reliance on applying learned skills in everyday life
  • Exposure to home triggers
  • More suitable for mild to moderate addiction

Choosing Between Outpatient and Inpatient Treatment for Gambling Addiction

When deciding between inpatient and outpatient treatment options for gambling addiction, there are some important things to think about.

How Serious is the Addiction?

Consider how severe the gambling addiction is. Inpatient treatment for gambling addiction is for more serious cases, while outpatient treatment is for less severe ones.

How Much Support Do You Need?

Think about the level of support you need. Inpatient treatment gives you care and guidance 24/7, while outpatient treatment relies on your existing support system.

How Does Your Environment Affect You?

Consider how your surroundings impact your gambling behavior. Inpatient treatment removes you from your usual environment, while outpatient treatment requires you to manage triggers at home.

What About Flexibility and Responsibilities?

Think about your flexibility and daily responsibilities. Outpatient treatment offers more flexibility, allowing you to continue with your regular life. Inpatient treatment requires dedicated recovery time.

What Do You Prefer?

Consider your personal preferences. Some people like the structure and support of inpatient treatment, while others prefer the freedom of outpatient treatment. Choose what feels right for you.

inpatient treatment for gambling addiction

Inpatient Treatment for Gambling Addiction at J. Flowers Health Institute

At J. Flowers Health Institute, we offer specialized inpatient treatment for gambling addiction and other mental health challenges. Our program is designed to provide people with the support they need to overcome gambling addiction and regain autonomy over their lives and well-being.

What Can Patients Expect During Treatment

At J. Flowers Health, we offer many different treatment options to help you overcome your addiction. Here’s what to expect from our inpatient treatment for gambling addiction:

  • Personalized treatment for gambling addiction
  • 24/7 access to support and care
  • Supportive and structured for recovery
  • Team of professionals including physicians, psychologists, addiction specialists, and therapists
  • Personalized counseling and evidence-based approaches
  • Comprehensive care for gambling addiction and mental health

Reach Out to J. Flowers Health Institute

If you or someone you love is ready to take the first step towards overcoming gambling addiction, our inpatient treatment for gambling addiction at J. Flowers Health Institute can provide the care and support you need. Contact us to learn more and start your journey to recovery.