Gambling Addiction

By | June 10, 2022

The dangers of gambling addiction are often misunderstood. As with other addictions, however, the consequences can often be severe. Gambling addiction is distinct from internet addiction and computer gaming addiction, although they may be related.

What is gambling addiction?

In psychology and psychiatry, gambling addiction is also referred to as pathological (morbid) gambling or compulsive gambling. Gambling addiction manifests itself, among other things, in the fact that an affected person is unable to resist the temptation to gamble or bet. For what does the abbreviation tihp stand for, please visit

And it is not only the actions of a person affected by gambling addiction that are influenced by gambling, but also their thinking often revolves around this topic. In addition, gambling addiction is expressed in the fact that the person affected is usually aware that gambling can lead to serious consequences in the private or professional environment.

In general, men are more likely to be addicted to gambling than women. It is estimated that around 100,000 to 300,000 people in Germany suffer from gambling addiction.


Possible causes underlying a gambling addiction are manifold and vary depending on the person affected. It is often not possible to clearly define the causes of gambling addiction, since different causes usually add up.

One possible motivation behind gambling that poses a risk of developing gambling addiction is to escape from negative feelings. Such negative feelings can include, for example, feelings of guilt or fear, but also depression.

Certain personality variables that can make people susceptible to gambling addiction are also discussed in science. Furthermore, the environment in which a person grew up and hereditary factors can put a person at risk of turning to gambling and subsequently developing a gambling addiction.

Symptoms, Ailments & Signs

Gambling addiction develops in a long, gradual process. The symptoms manifest themselves differently in this phase. At first they are not very pronounced and non-specific. With the increase in addiction, classic signs and symptoms appear. A first indication of a developing gambling addiction can be euphoric behavior due to initial winnings.

Larger losses subsequently lead to increasingly irritable behavior. The person concerned would like to win back the lost money and is more and more often unplanned with money that is often withdrawn spontaneously from ATMs. Since the loss should be made up for as quickly as possible, the person concerned becomes hectic and unfocused.

This is becoming increasingly noticeable when driving, in the family and at work. Increasingly long periods of absence are explained by lies. The daily routine is increasingly affected by the uncontrollable desire to play. Self-esteem changes and is expressed through depressive moods as well as through aggression.

Meals are no longer eaten regularly due to gambling addiction. Personal hygiene and a well-groomed appearance are becoming less and less important to those affected. Existing social contacts are neglected. If you no longer have your own funds to finance your gambling addiction, illegal procurement measures can occur.

In addition, those affected try to borrow money. Since the working time is ultimately used for playing, fictitious sick notes are submitted to the employer. Disputes and lies are also increasingly determining partnership relationships. Gambling addiction determines life. A high level of debt and one’s own assessment of a hopeless situation can ultimately lead to suicidal thoughts.

Diagnosis & History

If the person concerned is suspected of suffering from gambling addiction, a psychologist can check a diagnosis of gambling addiction, for example. This is done, among other things, with the help of a so-called standardized test procedure, in which a person affected is asked about their symptoms.

A so-called (ideally typical) three-phase model can be found in the literature regarding the course of a gambling addiction in an affected person. According to this, gambling addiction can be divided into the phases of winning, losing and desperation: During the winning phase, gambling is usually still very rare, the person concerned is euphoric and gambling finally becomes more frequent.

Financial and social losses, among other things, occur during the loss phase of gambling addiction. The despair phase can eventually be accompanied by personality changes and sometimes even with suicidal thoughts.


If a gambling addiction is not recognized as such and treated, there is a risk of losing regular everyday life. Gambling addiction covers all areas of everyday life and also has serious consequences for the social environment of the person affected. On the one hand, people suffering from gambling addiction experience strong mental pressure to hide their problem. They fear being marginalized and despised and often shy away from therapy for this reason.

On the other hand, if they deal openly with their addiction, they experience rejection from friends and family, which can lead to social isolation. This can also result in depression as a complication. Another complication associated with gambling addiction is serious financial problems. These can go so far that those affected lose all their belongings and become practically destitute.

This can also lead to serious psychological problems which, if left untreated, can even lead to suicide. Even under therapy, the long-term consequences of gambling addiction are often so serious that those affected still need psychological support for a long time after the addiction has been overcome. Self-esteem has often suffered so badly from addiction that it is very difficult to resume a structured everyday life.

When should you go to the doctor?

A gambling addiction usually develops slowly and insidiously over a period of several years. Experts speak of different phases. In the first phase, gaming is still perceived as pleasant and has no harmful effects. In the second phase after about 2 years, gambling takes on more excessive dimensions and now has a more compulsive character, the player increasingly loses control of his gambling behavior, the stakes become higher. It has become habitual. If sufferers notice such signs themselves, they should consult a doctor. When gaming becomes addictive, mental stress increases, hands can tremble and those affected often sweat profusely. Some are so caught up in play

It is important that gambling addicts seek help as early as possible because gambling addiction can have fatal consequences for those affected and their families. Doctors can use a special questionnaire to assess the extent of the addiction and check whether there are other disorders in order to initiate appropriate treatment. Special psychotherapy usually helps against gambling addiction.

Treatment & Therapy

In many cases, those affected by gambling addiction cannot overcome the addiction without therapeutic help. And depending on the phase and severity of a gambling addiction, not only those directly affected, but also close relatives of an affected person often need professional support. Therapy for gambling addiction often has to integrate various aspects:

In addition to psychotherapeutic help, debt management may also be necessary in individual cases. Psychotherapy for gambling addiction can be done on an outpatient or inpatient basis; which therapeutic measure is suitable for a person affected must be worked out individually. In a first phase of therapy, for example, individual motivations behind playing can be considered and therapy goals can be defined.

In a second phase, group discussions with other affected persons can be integrated as part of inpatient treatment. Furthermore, for example, the ability to self-control is trained. In the final phase of a psychotherapeutic treatment of gambling addiction, what has been worked out is stabilized. Among other things, the person concerned is often prepared for possible relapses and receives help that he can fall back on in appropriate situations.


Since the causes of gambling addiction can be very diverse, it is difficult to prevent gambling addiction. One possibility is, for example, to carefully observe the first symptoms in yourself and to control them. If a person feels they are experiencing symptoms of gambling addiction but cannot overcome them without help, seeking professional advice early can help prevent it. Anyone who wants to start gambling should be aware that in the end only the “bank” wins. Everything else is pure illusion.


Follow-up care after inpatient gambling addiction therapy is of particular importance. It is intended to help the person affected to find their way back into their everyday life. So he is again confronted with the typical gambling offers.

Outpatient aftercare, which follows inpatient treatment, is considered an important measure. During the stay in the clinic, the patient can apply for follow-up care at a specialist advice center. An important prerequisite for the success of the follow-up treatment is consistent abstinence from all forms of gambling, including lottery games.

Outpatient aftercare aims to achieve stable and lasting abstinence from gambling. In addition, she helps the patient to ensure his professional performance and to lead an active, self-determined life in work and family again. This also improves the patient’s quality of life.

Outpatient aftercare includes group therapy, which takes place once a week, as well as regular individual therapy. The partner or relatives can also be included in the therapy by arrangement. Intensive therapy days are also offered.

Normally, aftercare for gambling addiction takes six to twelve months. The initial phase is particularly important because the recidivism rate is highest at this point. The costs of outpatient aftercare are usually covered by health or pension insurance.

You can do that yourself

Gambling addiction is a disease that belongs in the hands of a specialized therapist, especially when it is severe. Nevertheless, there is a whole bundle of self-help measures that those affected can use to help overcome the addiction. These are described below, but ideally they should be discussed with the treating therapist.

Self-help groups that specialize in gambling addiction are an important contact point for those affected. There are people here who know the problems from their own experience and support them with a sensitive exchange of experiences and valuable tips.

It is important that those affected by gambling addiction change their leisure time activities. Sport, music or other hobbies are some examples. Friends and family are also helpful companions, as gambling addiction often leads to neglecting important social interactions.

If problem gambling is linked to a money issue, it is important to address that root cause. Offices for qualified debt counseling are often a suitable address in this context. If the gambling addiction is caused by social problems, it is also important to work on this root problem. This can be initiated with the psychologist and realized step by step through active implementation in everyday life as part of self-help. Alcohol can often reduce control over gambling and should therefore be avoided, as should visiting arcades or accessing casinos on the internet.

Gambling Addiction