Gambling addiction is defined as a disorder consisting of repeated and frequent episodes of gambling that dominate the person’s life to the detriment of social, professional, material, and family values and obligations.
Indeed, for the pathological gambler, gambling becomes a permanent preoccupation, occupying a central place in life, disregard of financial risks, and to the extent that gambling becomes a means of escaping all other problems.
The behaviour has become compulsive: the person gradually loses his or her freedom and gradually feels “obliged” to go back to gambling. This disorder is recognised in psychiatry as a “habit and impulse disorder”.
The main causes are emotional and social.
Self-esteem disorder (narcissistic personality disorder) – Specific relationship to money – Search for competition – Excessive need for social recognition – Tendency to work frantically – Stress and anxiety – Compensation for relationship problems
Hypnosis acts by reducing the desire to gamble again, by increasing willpower, or by reinforcing the concentration on a treatment aimed at stopping gambling in all its forms. The aim is to decondition oneself from one’s inner thoughts about the addiction. The treatment lasts several sessions and includes work on habits and the implementation of new learning, strategies to avoid relapse. Hypnosis is used to support the implementation of new habits and to reinforce motivation. In addition to the basic programme, it is possible to do additional sessions if it is necessary to work on other difficulties (stress, depression,…)
If withdrawal causes anxiety, cravings, or insomnia problems, sophrology can be very useful to reduce anxiety, de-dramatise the situation, and also to learn through relaxation and breathing control to better cope with withdrawal. It can also help to manage conflicts that may arise in a healthy and non-neurotic way.
Behavioural and cognitive psychotherapy techniques can help gambler to get rid of certain behaviours by helping them to better understand the thoughts they associate with them. These methods can be used both in preparation for and during withdrawal or to prevent relapse. The therapy includes a contractual agreement to abstain completely from gambling. Psychotherapy enables the gambling addict to become aware of his or her problem. It helps to deal with disorders often associated with gambling addiction, such as anxiety and depression. It helps to assess the degree of motivation and to check that the time for withdrawal is right. Organisation for addicted helps addicts build coping strategies for difficult situations. It is also essential to work on damaged areas in the gambler (self-esteem disorder, emotional regulation disorder, relationship disorder). It is particularly recommended to treat relational disorders in group therapy. More generally, it is preferable to include family and friends in the process, in order to take into account the problem of debt, without denying it, and to develop a money and debt management system.