Understanding gambling addiction

Understanding gambling addiction

Gambling addiction is a huge problem in our society and one that is rising around the world. In fact, a survey published in 2013 revealed that nearly six million people in America had a gambling disorder that warranted some form of treatment.

Also known as compulsive gambling, gambling disorder, or pathological gambling, it is classified by the DSM-5 (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) as an addictive disorder. People with gambling addiction have many similarities with the traits of alcoholics and drug addicts.

This behavioral addiction fits one definition of addiction that is widely used by mental health experts. That is, it is something that someone cannot stop and stay stopped from that is detrimental to themselves and/or those around them.

Powerless over gambling

Powerless over gambling

A compulsive gambling addict cannot seem to control their impulse to gamble. This is whether they are winning, losing, wealthy or poor.

In terms of it being an addiction, it doesn’t matter whether someone can afford it or not. It’s about the powerlessness they seem to have over the behavior – despite negative consequences to themselves and others.

Thoughts and compulsion to gamble dominate them. They are never present in the moment unless they are gambling because otherwise they are constantly thinking about gambling. It can negatively impact everything they do in life – from work to family time to playing sports and doing hobbies as well as socializing too. It often badly affects sleeping and physical health due to not taking care of themselves, including not eating well.

Gambling and sport

Gambling and sport

There is comorbidity with alcohol and drug problems. Many gambling addicts are also more likely to suffer from stress, anxiety, and depression – including thinking about or attempting suicide.

Many gamblers with problems also suffer from bipolar disorder or unmanaged attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Significant links have also been found between problem gambling and daily tobacco use, as well as problematic shopping and addictive gaming.

Gambling addicts come from all backgrounds and all professions. But men are around seven times more likely than women to have a problem with gambling.

This is put down to the fact that gambling is often connected with sports, which men overall show more of an interest in. But some mental health experts also think it is likely because men are in general more hedonistic in nature and likely to take risks than women.

Other factors that can play a part in someone developing a gambling problem are:

  • Trauma.
  • Having other addictions.
  • Mental health issues, such as anxiety or depression.
  • Feeling isolated and lonely.
  • Being unemployed or retired.

As with other addictions, Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) can be behind gambling addiction. In this way, gambling can act as an all-consuming distraction (regarding the planning, doing, and aftermath) from the overwhelming pain of this.

Then there is the chase for the high – the “feel-good” chemical dopamine and “happiness hormone” endorphin are both released during gambling. But this high is always short-lived – and so the compulsion to gamble will start up again soon afterward.

How do I know if I have a gambling problem?

How do I know if I have a gambling problem

According to Gamblers Anonymous, founded in 1957 and now with meetings around the world that follow the Twelve Steps recovery program, answering these 20 questions can give a strong indication of a problem with gambling or not. The more someone answers “yes”, the greater the problem they are likely to have.

  1. Do you lose time from work or school due to gambling?
  2. Is gambling making your home life unhappy?
  3. Is gambling affecting your reputation?
  4. Have you ever felt remorse after gambling?
  5. Do you ever gamble to get money with which to pay debts or otherwise solve financial difficulties?
  6. Does gambling cause a decrease in your ambition or efficiency?
  7. After losing, do you feel you must return as soon as possible and win back your losses?
  8. After a win, do you have a strong urge to return and win more?
  9. Do you often gamble until your last dollar is gone?
  10. Do you ever borrow to finance your gambling?
  11. Have you ever sold anything to finance gambling?
  12. Are you reluctant to use gambling money for normal expenditures?
  13. Does gambling make you careless of the welfare of your family?
  14. Do you gamble longer than you planned?
  15. Do you ever gamble to escape worry or trouble?
  16. Have you ever committed, or considered committing, an illegal act to finance gambling?
  17. Does gambling cause you to have difficulty in sleeping?
  18. Do arguments, disappointments, or frustrations create an urge within you to gamble?
  19. Do you have an urge to celebrate any good fortune by a few hours of gambling?
  20. Have you ever considered self-destruction as a result of your gambling?

Is there a solution for gambling addiction?

Is there a solution for gambling addiction

Gambling can be successfully treated in the same manner as other addictions. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) has shown positive results for many people.

Benefits of recovery from gambling addiction include getting your life back on track and your finances in order. If left untreated though, as with all addictions, it is a progressive illness that will most likely get worse.

We carefully listen in complete confidence to everyone who chooses to be our guest at Tikvah Lake, in our wonderfully peaceful environment including our beautiful tranquil lake. We offer a personalized treatment program to work for the swiftest and most enduring recovery.

Our friendly experienced team has treated people with all types of mental health problems. Contact us to have a chat about how we can help you or someone you care about – starting today.

What is mindfulness

What is mindfulness?

Mindfulness is when someone focuses their attention on the present moment – what they are seeing, sensing, and feeling – without any judgment. It has been proven to help with many mental health and emotional disorders as well as some physical problems.

In the past decade, it has really gained in popularity. But mindfulness is an ancient practice that people have been doing for thousands of years.

Most of the mindfulness methods popular in the Western world today are derived from Hinduism and Buddhism. But it was scientist, writer, and meditation teacher Jon Kabat-Zinn who significantly introduced it to the West in the 1970s with his Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program at the University of Massachusetts to treat chronically ill patients.

Since then it has really spread as a form of therapy. This is due to an increasing number of medical and mental health experts noticing its great success in helping with various physical and emotional problems.

Be here now

Jon Kabat-Zinn defines mindfulness as: “the awareness that emerges through paying attention on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally, to things as they are.”

Spending time thinking about the past, planning for the future, making decisions and choices, problem-solving, or drifting away in your head to somewhere other than where you are can be a mental and emotional drain on us. 

Not being in the present moment and keeping it in the day, one day at a time, is also more likely to lead to anxiety, stress, and depression. Mindfulness helps us to move away from this sort of thinking and be there in the world around us.

This also helps us learn to observe our thoughts, which is an invaluable skill to have. Many people don’t realize that we always have a choice over which of our thoughts we pay attention to at any time.

If we focus on negative thoughts we will experience negative feelings. Then this is likely to lead to more negative thoughts as we try to understand why we feel so bad.

What are the benefits of mindfulness?

What are the benefits of mindfulness

Mindfulness teaches people how to ignore negative thoughts and beliefs. This allows for more space for positive thoughts, which create positive feelings and so boost energy levels. Life is overall much better.

Mindfulness has helped with many physical and mental health problems, including:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Addiction
  • Stress, including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Pain
  • High blood pressure
  • Eating disorders
  • Personality disorders
  • Sleep disorders, including insomnia

What mindfulness methods are there?

We all have the ability to be mindful. But there are some methods that have helped many people.

Here are four popular mindfulness techniques:

Walking mindfulness

Start to slowly walk from a quiet spot. Put your attention fully on this experience of walking and continue for about 20 feet. Feel sensations and observe sounds, such as what noise there is as your feet touch the ground and then the sensation in the soles of your feet. You can spin round and walk back if you wish, staying mindful of every step.

Body scan

Lie on your back with your arms at your sides and palms facing upwards. Now pay attention to every part of your body, starting from your scalp and slowly work all the way down to your toes. As you run down your body, notice any sensations and feelings you have in each part. As well, be observant of any thoughts you might have about any body part as you focus on it.

Raisin Exercise

It doesn’t actually need to be a raisin, any food will do. Put it in front of you and note how it looks, feels, what happens if you squeeze it, what smells it has, and finally be fully aware of its taste. As with other types of mindfulness, imagine that you’re seeing or experiencing something for the first time. It helps to look at how children are when they see something for the first time – that joy, excitement, and inquisitiveness.

Sitting mindfulness

Sit with a straight back with both feet flat on the floor and hands resting in your lap. Now while breathing through your nose, focus on every breath that moves in and out of you. Do this for five minutes or more, and also note how your chest rises and falls with each breath.

Mindfulness: how frequently and when?

Mindfulness can be practiced at any moment and anywhere

Mindfulness can be practiced at any moment and anywhere. Many people find that outdoors among peaceful nature is best, although it can be done in a busy urban area too.

As with the location, when you practice mindfulness is up to each person. Many people have discovered that first thing in the morning is the most beneficial time to do it and the best way to start every day. Try for five minutes at first and work up to a longer time, whatever you feel is helping you.

Our peaceful environment here at Tikvah Lake is ideal for mindfulness. Many of our guests sit by our tranquil lake to do just this or walk in the beautiful peaceful nature that is all around us.

Our friendly experienced team has helped people with all types of emotional and mental health problems. Call us today to have a chat about how we can help you or someone you love.

What is Body Dysmorphic Disorder

What is body dysmorphic disorder?

Body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) is a mental health disorder when someone has an obsession that an aspect of their body or appearance is severely flawed. They believe that it needs to be hidden or altered – and will take exceptional measures to hide or attempt to fix it.

These flaws they “see” are most often imagined and other people cannot usually see anything wrong. If there is actually any flaw, in the mind of someone with BDD it is drastically exaggerated.

Also sometimes called body dysmorphia or dysmorphophobia, BDD causes great distress to anyone suffering from it. They may spend days on end only stressing and thinking about the flaw or flaws they believe they have.

Their thoughts about it can be totally intrusive and stop them from living normal daily life. This clearly has a negative impact on them and can badly affect those around them as well.

Someone suffering from BDD is more likely to turn to excessive drinking and/or using drugs or a behavioral addiction in an attempt to change their negative feelings. They are more likely as well to suffer from stress, anxiety, or depression.

Who does BDD affect?

Who does Body Dysmorphic Disorder

Physician Enrico Morselli reported in the 1880s a disorder in people that he called dysmorphophobia. He was using it to describe a condition he had observed in some people who felt they were ugly even when there was nothing about their appearance that was unattractive.

A hundred years later the American Psychiatric Association (APA) recognized the disorder in its Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). The term body dysmorphic disorder was first used in this book in 1987.

BDD is classified as an obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) that’s estimated to affect five million to 10 million people in the US. Usually, it starts during the teenage years and affects both males and females.

BDD subtype “muscle dysmorphia” – a preoccupation that one’s body is not muscular enough and too skinny – affects mostly males. Sometimes muscle dysmorphia is known as “megarexia”, “bigorexia” or “reverse anorexia”.

What are the signs of BDD?

Signs and symptoms of Body Dysmorphic Disorder

Having BDD does not indicate that someone is vain. But it usually has a devastating effect on the person with BDD.

For instance, some have delusions that other people are subtly pointing out or noticing their flaws without saying anything directly. BDD’s severity can change, but when it is intense it can mean avoidance of work, college, and socializing.

Someone with BDD can focus on any aspect of themselves. Most commonly it is the face, hair, and/or skin.

BDD symptoms include: 

  • Repeatedly and obsessively checking appearance. 
  • Frequently comparing themselves (or a part of themselves) with other people.
  • Continually seeking verbal reassurances.
  • Constantly choosing and/or changing outfits or such as brushing hair, cleaning teeth and putting on make-up in an attempt to cover “flaws”.
  • Looking in mirrors a lot. Or going to great lengths to completely avoid seeing their reflection.
  • Picking at skin to “smooth” it. This can create lesions that make it worse.
  • Poor focus and motivation due to not being able to stop compulsively thinking about attempting to fix the “flaw”.
  • Self-harm and even suicidal thoughts.

As with most mental health disorders, BDD’s cause is complex and likely because of multiple factors, including psychological, social, and cultural aspects. It can be the result of trauma, toxic shame, or some form of a “failure of love”, frequently experienced in childhood.

Many people suffering from BDD seek dermatological treatment or cosmetic surgery. Most often these do not help to resolve their condition, certainly not in the long term.

Due to the person with BDD feeling flawed, it can be extremely difficult for people to seek help for BDD. But seeking help from an expert in this type of disorder is vital because symptoms probably will not go away on their own – and will most often get progressively worse.

However, with treatment, they can start to improve straightaway. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) has helped people with mild BDD.

Our professional team of experts has helped people with every type of emotional problem and mental health disorder. Call us today to discuss how we can help you or someone you know.

Image of Outdoor greenyard at Tikvah Lake Recovery

Why getting away to a recovery center can be the best thing to do

Someone who’s experiencing emotional difficulties or mental health problems might find help through a weekly therapy session or a Twelve Steps group. For many people, this can be a successful way to recovery – but for countless others, there is the need for something more.

For instance, someone might have alcohol addiction issues. Going to Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, especially to start with, is not for everyone – but even for some of those who start attending regular meetings outside temptations can sometimes just seem too much.

They cannot be at the meetings or with like-minded people who also attend the meetings at all times every day. Nearby are still all the old bars they used to visit along with their old drinking buddies.

If drugs are an issue it could be that the dealer is still around, still getting in touch… If someone has issues with depression or anxiety it can be that their family is still calling around every day and that’s one of the main triggers for their debilitating condition.

Temptations and triggers 

Addiction Temptation

Maybe it’s their home life itself, or perhaps they cannot switch off and relax because it seems as if every five minutes a work demand is hitting them. For some people, there’s an ex-partner living too close.

If any of these or similar scenarios are in place, it can mean that although someone really wants to make significant changes, they can never seem to get off the starting blocks. Before they know it, they are back where they started in terms of their addiction or mental health.

Because mental health conditions and addictions nearly always get progressively worse unless treated, this can be a very dangerous place to be. It’s one reason why recovery centers exist. They help people get away and start making the significant progress they can in a relatively brief period of time.

At a point then into their recovery, the temptations and triggers of their regular life where they live will not hold such power over them. They will be capable of continuing their progressive recovery where they live by this stage.

But a time away from all of that has proven immensely beneficial to thousands of people. They need to step away from their ordinary life to a safe place in order to get back on the right track. 

How to choose a recovery center

Take a look at where it is. It doesn’t necessarily need to be somewhere close to where you live. In fact, having some distance is often of the greatest benefit.

See what facilities are there. Tranquility and calm will always help with recovery because it allows someone to focus on what they need to in order to get well.

Also, consider the size of the recovery center. Many are so big that they are bound to be busy and not so personal.

It’s something we consider essential here at Tikvah Lake. This is why we never have more than six guests staying with us at any one time.

One-on-one therapy every day

“There are three things I wanted here,” says Dr. David Nesenoff, CEO of Tikvah Lake Recovery and a counselor for more than three decades. “First is that the facility should be only housing a few people at a time. Secondly, that the therapists conduct one-on-one therapy.”

At Tikvah Lake, our therapists are carefully selected to have the greatest expertise. Our friendly experienced team has treated people with all types of mental health problems.

“One-on-one therapy is where the majority of people make the greatest and swiftest recovery,” continues David. “Yet, many recovery centers only have one-on-one therapy sessions once a week.

“It’s very difficult to change human behavior. So what it takes is personalized one-on-one therapy every single day, multiple times a day.”

An ideal environment for recovery

There was another essential part of making the ideal recovery center. “Thirdly, I wanted Tikvah Lake to be in a beautiful environment,” says David. “That’s somewhere with beautiful surroundings to get you out of wherever you are and plant you in a place where you’re ready to restore your life, ready to revive and begin again.”

For this reason, everything about Tikvah Lake has been made with calm and relaxation uppermost in mind. That’s why it’s known as “a recovery oasis”.

Tikvah Lake’s surroundings are absolutely stunning. This includes our wonderful tranquil lake. It’s therapeutic on its own, ideal for reflection with the calm it radiates. Many guests meditate on its shores or go out boating to relax.

There is also breathtaking nature all around – with terrific access to State Park trails and all the benefits that come from being among nature. This can all be enjoyed throughout the year because of the warmth and light of the Florida sunshine.

More recovery center benefits

Another key aspect is that anyone who comes to Tikvah Lake is a guest – not a patient or client. Tikvah Lake is a family-run center and as such everybody is treated as if they are family.

“Our guests are receiving a family-type environment,” says Tikvah Lake’s Clinical Director Dr. Jeff Allen. “We are a home. When I think of home I think of family, dinners, love, smiles, laughter, and help. We have this here.”

There are many other benefits to staying at a recovery center and choosing one of the treatment programs such as the 10-Day Executive one that Tikvah Lake offers. For instance, there’s always someone around such as a therapist – so help is on hand whenever it’s needed.

Another is that there are most likely to be like-minded individuals who are also looking for a recovery in their own lives. These are people who can help each other and lifelong friendships are made due to their strong connection.

Once removed from regular life with all its distractions, people can be more focused on their recovery. Anyone’s time at a recovery center is their personal recovery time and they can give 100 percent to getting well.

Many people who start recovery have neglected to look after themselves. This is often obvious if someone has been addicted to drinking and/or drugs, but it is also the case with a behavioral addiction such as work or gaming. As well, people who’ve been suffering from stress, anxiety, and depression have often been unable to take care of themselves.

In addition, everyone always sleeps better at Tikvah Lake due to the tranquil ambiance and large luxury private suites with en-suite bathrooms. Improved sleep clearly helps with getting emotionally and physically healthy – and it gives a positive energy boost too.

When people are struggling they will often miss out on meals or eat unhealthy food in a rush. This is completely turned around so that mealtimes are relaxing and enjoyable occasions.

Our professional chef serves world-class food and knows just the right ingredients to help each person individually. All food is fresh, healthy and utterly delicious too.

Contact us today for a confidential chat to discover how we can help you or someone you care about get into recovery.

It takes great courage to reach out for help. But the positive results can be swift and truly remarkable.

Contact Us When You're Ready


Ready to Get Started?