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Illinois Gambling Addiction Treatment

Illinois Gambling Addiction Treatment

Gambling addiction can take a heavy toll on a person’s life, affecting their health, finances, and the well-being of those closest to them. At one time, gambling only occurred in casinos, but today it takes many forms, with people wagering, betting, and gaming online 24/7. Gambling addiction can affect everyone, from teens to adults, with around six million people in the United States struggling with compulsive gambling.

Illinois Gambling Addiction Treatment

Gambling addiction occurs when a person keeps gambling, even when it causes adverse outcomes. People with this condition will no longer be able to control their gambling activities and continue to gamble even after losing all of their money. While addiction is a complex issue, the wide availability of treatment options means you can overcome the destructive cycle and regain control of your life.

Signs and Symptoms of Gambling Addiction

There are many signs of gambling addiction. Learning to recognize these signs should be the first step toward getting help. Identifying the symptoms and signs of problem gambling can help prevent its damaging effects:

  • Being unable to resist the urge to gamble
  • Placing huge bets or taking dangerous risks, such as borrowing money from illegal sources
  • Losing control of the amount of money spent in a gambling session
  • Experiencing trouble in professional life as a result of gambling 
  • Displaying secretive behavior surrounding gambling activities
  • Sudden money issues, such as losing a large amount of cash
  • Needing to gamble with increasing amounts of money to get the same thrill
  • Gambling to relieve feelings of anxiety, guilt, or depression
  • Applying for new credit cards without any observable need for money
  • Neglecting friends and family members in favor of gambling
  • Lying about spending habits
  • Spending time online without talking about the activity
  • Requesting money from friends and family members without giving a reason

What Causes Gambling Addiction?

What Causes Gambling Addiction?

While gambling can be just as stimulating in the brain’s reward system as other addictive substances, the exact cause of compulsive gambling isn’t known. Experts believe it could result from a combination of factors that make people more susceptible. These factors can include the following:

  • Biological: Recent studies suggest various biological issues could be at play regarding the development of gambling addiction. These include abnormal serotonin levels, increased dopamine, and high levels of the stress hormone norepinephrine. A 2019 study identified reward system dysfunction in adults with gambling addictions.
  • Genetic: People with a family member who struggles with gambling addiction are at an increased risk of developing the condition themselves. One study found that twins raised apart had a significant inheritability of impulsive behaviors linked to gambling problems, with the estimate of genetic influence at 83%
  • Environmental: Several environmental issues put people at a higher risk for developing a gambling addiction, including being close to gaming venues, viewing advertisements, or experiencing unemployment, financial problems, and high stress. Some people may chase the social status associated with being a successful gambler and the entertaining environment of the mainstream gambling scene. 

Additionally, the increasing prevalence of different types of gambling also makes it easier for people to develop compulsive gambling issues. While any gambling — from racing and bingo to card games or slot machines — can become problematic, some types have specific characteristics that might intensify the issue and consequences, such as games where there is a short time between placing a bet and seeing the results. 

Unfortunately, it can be challenging to break the cycle when gambling addiction takes hold. A person can develop a severe addiction when they feel financially desperate and cannot recover their lost money. Most compulsive gamblers won’t come close to breaking even after collecting money from a massive win. 

Who’s at Risk for Gambling Addiction?

While most people who gamble never develop an addiction, certain factors put people at risk of compulsive gambling, including:

Mental Health Conditions

Mental Health Conditions

People with problem gambling often have other mental health issues like substance use disorders, personality disorders, depression, or anxiety. Gambling addiction is often associated with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), bipolar disorder, or attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). 

Age and Sex

Gambling addictions are more common among younger and middle-aged people. Research shows gambling during childhood or teenage years increases a person’s risk of developing an addiction. However, compulsive gambling is also an issue in the older adult population. 

Older adults may be particularly vulnerable to gambling-related problems due to losses experienced in their personal lives such as social isolation, loneliness, or a lower income. Gamblers might desire to make up for these losses through winnings in gambling by increasing their participation. 

Research also finds men are over seven times more likely than women to develop gambling addictions. 

Certain Medications

Certain Medications

Research shows specific medications can increase a person’s chances of developing a gambling addiction. Dopamine agonists, used to treat conditions like Parkinson’s disease and restless legs syndrome, have a rare side effect of compulsive behaviors in some people. These medicines can result in risky behaviors like compulsive gambling, binge eating, shopping, and other behaviors that may begin or worsen. 

Family History

Family history also seems to play a significant role in the risk profile of people who develop gambling problems. One study found veterans in treatment for substance use disorder who reported their parents were compulsive gamblers were three times as likely to have gambling addictions themselves. Additionally, participants who perceived their grandparents as having gambling problems were 12 times as likely to meet the criteria for gambling addiction on screening measures. 

Personality Characteristics

Personality Characteristics

People who are highly competitive, impulsive, restless, or easily bored are found to be at an increased risk of developing compulsive behaviors like gambling. A lesser-researched area of comorbid gambling addiction is the link between problem gambling and other non-substance-related behaviors that can become harmful, including video game playing, internet use, sex, eating, and compulsive shopping habits.

Short- and Long-Term Effects of Gambling Addiction

Gambling doesn’t just affect the person struggling with the addiction — it has far-reaching consequences that impact the lives of those around them. The longer a gambling addiction continues without professional treatment, the more likely it will affect a person’s relationships, work, or stability of life. 

Gambling addiction can have the following short and long-term effects:

General Health Problems

General Health Problems

Recent studies have explored the connection between gambling addictions and general health status. People with gambling addictions often report long sessions lasting from hours to days without sleep or food. The impact on physical and emotional stress can be dramatic. 

Elevated stress levels aren’t just confined to the casino. With escalating debt and financial issues, there can be an increased urgency to continue the cycle by spending more time and energy gambling or attempting to cover it up. All together, gambling addictions can lead to chronic stress that can have physical health consequences, such as cardiovascular disease, hypertension, and peptic ulcer disease.

Sleep deprivation is another common effect of gambling addiction. The problem often arises due to 24-hour access to casinos and environmental controls that hide the passage of time. Sleep deprivation can significantly impact a person’s mental health, including motor and cognitive impairment, mood swings, and immune system issues. 

Substance Use Disorder

Another indirect consequence of compulsive gambling is the increased risk of developing substance use disorders, which can cause medical problems. People with gambling addictions may struggle with nicotine or alcohol dependence due to casino environments and the availability of free alcohol and second-hand smoke. Stressful situations can also increase a person’s risk of self-medicating with substances. 

Having a substance use disorder can make it more challenging to treat gambling addiction, making it essential to learn how to identify these comorbid disorders. 

Psychological Issues

Winning, losing, and continually searching for ways to gamble can significantly impact a person’s mental health. Compulsive gambling can trigger or worsen depressive symptoms, generalized anxiety, and personality disorders. While depression may cause people to self-medicate by gambling, the activity can increase symptoms of guilt, hopelessness, shame, and desperation.

Studies also show a strong connection between gambling and suicidal ideation or attempts, most likely immediately after experiencing a significant loss. In addition to increased depressive symptoms, compulsive gambling has a direct effect on anxiety. Many people with a gambling addiction also struggle with fear, worry, and anxiety, as they are desperate to recover losses immediately.

Social Difficulties

Social Difficulties

Perhaps the most concrete effects of problem gambling are the social consequences. Gambling addiction can lead to financial loss, bankruptcies, lost time at work, increased crime, and emotional hardships faced by the families of those struggling. Gambling addiction can also often lead to deception and social isolation, which can affect a person’s social life and family dynamics. 

Types of Treatment For Gambling Addiction

Types of Treatment For Gambling Addiction

While gambling addiction can have consequences on a person’s mental, physical, social, and financial health, professional treatment can effectively end the cycle. Standard treatment options for gambling addiction include:

  • Therapy: Behavioral therapies like cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT) can help change how you feel and think about gambling. This way, you can learn to abstain from gambling and regain control of your mental health. 
  • Medications: Mental health professionals can provide a dual diagnosis for co-occurring disorders and offer medicines to relieve symptoms. For example, mood stabilizers and antidepressants may help reduce symptoms of illnesses that sometimes appear with gambling addictions. 
  • Support groups: Many people find it helpful to speak with others in a similar situation. With the help of like-minded individuals, support groups can provide the encouragement and advice you need to abstain from gambling. 

Seeking professional gambling addiction treatment near you can help you overcome the unhealthy cycle. 

The Process of Treating Gambling Addiction

At Gateway Foundation, we provide various treatment options to help you overcome gambling addiction and get you on a healthy path. The process for treating gambling addiction includes the following:

Holistic and Evidence-Based Therapies

Evidence-based behavioral therapies and holistic methods can treat a person’s addiction symptoms and underlying causes.

In cognitive-behavioral therapy, for example, mental health professionals will help you identify the unhealthy thoughts and behaviors associated with your gambling addiction to replace them with new, healthy ones. In therapy sessions, you can gradually change your feelings to modify the gambling behavior and regain control of your life.

Dual Diagnosis Treatment

Therapists can also help treat any co-occurring mental health conditions you may have developed before or due to your gambling addiction. For instance, you may realize that you gamble to self-medicate your stress, anxiety, or depression. In therapy, counselors can help you learn how to process your emotions appropriately and practice calming mindfulness techniques in moments of stress.

Addressing the underlying problems of your addiction rather than just the symptoms is crucial for your long-term health and happiness. 

Medication for Co-Occurring Problems

Medication for Co-Occurring Problems

Medically assisted treatment can be effective for gambling addictions and underlying health conditions. After all, it’s essential to treat co-occurring disorders for treatment to be effective. Antidepressants can treat issues like depression and anxiety that may result from or lead to gambling, while narcotic antagonists can reduce the craving to gamble.

Support Groups

Support Groups

Joining a compulsive gambling support group is an excellent way to practice self-help and gain a sense of belonging. Gateway Foundation provides 12-step fellowships to help people receive encouragement to abstain from gambling. These meetings can help you receive support, validation, and advice to overcome addiction and stay healthy. 

Recreational Activities

Recreational Activities

Building healthy habits is also a crucial step in gambling addiction treatment. You might partake in healthy hobbies at treatment centers, like exercise, yoga, or hiking. Establishing a healthy routine can be highly effective for your recovery success.

Therapeutic art can also help you replace unhealthy coping mechanisms to refrain from gambling. These activities might include playing or creating music, painting, or drawing. Therapeutic art can also help promote self-expression to relieve deep-seated emotions and examine addiction’s effects on your life. 

Benefits of Seeking Treatment For Gambling Addiction

There are so many benefits of seeking professional help at a gambling addiction treatment center, such as:

  • Identify underlying issues: You can learn more about yourself, your past, and why you may have succumbed to gambling addiction in a treatment center. For instance, you might discover that you have a co-occurring disorder and find ways to manage symptoms. You can overcome your addiction and maintain a healthier life beyond treatment.
  • Gain a sense of belonging: You’ll speak with like-minded individuals in support groups at addiction treatment centers. A sense of belonging can be crucial to a person’s success. You’ll share your experiences with others, listen to your peers and gain advice and feedback to help you abstain from gambling.
  • Achieve better overall health: At gambling addiction treatment centers, professionals will help you get started on a healthy path by encouraging healthy activities like exercise or yoga and other fun recreational hobbies.

Gamblers Anonymous Twenty Questions

Gamblers Anonymous Twenty Questions

Gamblers Anonymous (GA) is a group that helps people share their experiences, support, and hope to stop gambling and build better lives. The 12-step program creates a safe space to discuss gambling and abstinence experiences. The GA uses twenty questions to self-test for new members.

If you answer yes to seven or more of the following questions, GA believes you may have a compulsive gambling problem. 

1. 
Have you ever lost time from work due to gambling? 

2. 
Has gambling created problems in your home life?

3. 
Has gambling ever impacted your reputation?

4. 
Have you ever felt remorseful after gambling? 

5. 
Did you ever gambled to get money to cover debts or solve financial problems?

6. 
Did gambling affect your efficiency or motivation? 

7. 
After losing, did you want to return as soon as possible to win back the money you lost?

8. 
After winning, did you have a strong urge to return and win again? 

9. 
Did you often gamble until running out of money?

10. 
Did you ever borrow money from people to pay for gambling?

11. 
Have you ever sold any of your possessions to cover gambling costs?

12. 
Were you reluctant to use "gambling money" to pay for food, rent, or other expenses?

13. 
Did gambling make you feel careless about your welfare or the welfare of your family? 

14. 
Did you ever gamble longer than you initially planned to?

15. 
Have you ever gambled to escape feelings of anxiety, worry, or trouble? 

16. 
Have you ever done, or considered doing, anything illegal or risky to pay for your gambling?

17. 
Has gambling ever caused you to lose sleep or not sleep well?

18. 
Do stress situations like arguments or frustrations give you the urge to gamble? 

19. 
Do you ever want to gamble for a few hours as a form of celebration?

20. 
Has your gambling ever made you think about hurting or killing yourself? 

Frequently Asked Questions About Gambling Addiction Treatment

Frequently Asked Questions About Gambling Addiction Treatment

Answers to common questions about gambling addiction treatment include:

1. How Can the Illinois Self-Exclusion List Help With Gambling Addiction?

People who suspect themselves of having gambling problems can participate in the Illinois exclusion list program. Applying to the voluntary self-exclusion program can keep you away from casinos and other places to help you abstain from gambling. You can learn more about Illinois’ problem gambling services on the state government website.

2. How Do I Know When It’s Time for Treatment? 

Since denial is a primary feature of compulsive behavior, it can be challenging to recognize when you have a gambling problem. It may be time to seek treatment for gambling if you display the following signs:

  • Prioritizing gambling, such as constantly planning gambling activities
  • Needing to gamble with more money to get the same thrill
  • Trying to control or cut back gambling without success
  • Gambling to self-medicate symptoms of depression or anxiety
  • Lying to family members about the extent of your gambling
  • Trying to get back lost money by gambling more
  • Asking others to bail you out of financial trouble due to gambling money away

Most casual gamblers stop after losing a predetermined amount of money. But people with a compulsive gambling problem feel an uncontrollable urge to continue playing and recover their money — a pattern that becomes more destructive over time. Recognizing these signs in yourself or a loved one early can help you seek treatment as soon as possible. 

Get Illinois Problem Gambling Help at Gateway Foundation

Get Illinois Problem Gambling Help at Gateway Foundation

Gambling addiction can pose serious issues for a person’s social, physical, mental, and financial health. At Gateway Foundation, we can help you overcome the addictive cycle and treat any co-occurring health disorders.

Our highly experienced team of addiction professionals can work with you to develop a custom treatment plan that addresses your unique situation. At Gateway, we are with you for life. Our warm, welcoming treatment center can help you open up about your addiction struggles, build a support network and improve your overall health.

To learn more about our gambling addiction treatment programs, contact us today. 

Gateway was one of the best decisions of my life they truly saved me from the road I was headed down! I would love to thank the staff and of course my amazing counselor Adrain really helped me refocus my life on the right path without gateway I wouldn’t have made it thank you and I love this place I always come back to alumni meeting and events.

My family member just competed her 28 day stay she had a great experience the staff is wonderful and treated her with respect and went above and beyond to help her. Gateway saved my family members life. It was not easy finding a nice inpatient rehab and gateway made the whole process very smooth we are so thankful we found this facility. Thank you gateway.

Spent some time here and got some great tools to help me in my recovery. My counselors in the women’s unit were great and supportive. Love the monthly alumni meetings after treatment, great way to stay connected.

A little over 7 years ago I decided to seek treatment for alcohol and drug addiction and chose this facility as a place to try and arrest my disease and I have been clean and sober ever since. After 30 days inpatient treatment and 9 months outpatient I was able to achieve that goal. I recommend this facility to anyone who truly wants freedom from active addiction.

This place honestly saved my life. I was so bad my counselor said in the 2 years she was working there my case was the most unique she’s ever had, and now I’m almost 15 months clean!

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What Our Clients Say

Gateway was one of the best decisions of my life they truly saved me from the road I was headed down! I would love to thank the staff and of course my amazing counselor Adrain really helped me refocus my life on the right path without gateway I wouldn’t have made it thank you and I love this place I always come back to alumni meeting and events.

My family member just competed her 28 day stay she had a great experience the staff is wonderful and treated her with respect and went above and beyond to help her. Gateway saved my family members life. It was not easy finding a nice inpatient rehab and gateway made the whole process very smooth we are so thankful we found this facility. Thank you gateway.

Spent some time here and got some great tools to help me in my recovery. My counselors in the women’s unit were great and supportive. Love the monthly alumni meetings after treatment, great way to stay connected.

A little over 7 years ago I decided to seek treatment for alcohol and drug addiction and chose this facility as a place to try and arrest my disease and I have been clean and sober ever since. After 30 days inpatient treatment and 9 months outpatient I was able to achieve that goal. I recommend this facility to anyone who truly wants freedom from active addiction.

This place honestly saved my life. I was so bad my counselor said in the 2 years she was working there my case was the most unique she’s ever had, and now I’m almost 15 months clean!