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How could my gambling become a problem?

October 13, 2009

By Lori Hanson

Recently I had the pleasure of meeting Dr. Gary Lange at an addiction/treatment luncheon. As people suffer from all different types of addictions which I believe fundamentally arrive from the same emptiness or need to numb out I asked Gary to share an article for our blog. Gary specializes in helping people who have developed an addiction to gambling. And being here in Southern California only a weekend drive from Vegas, I know he has a busy client load.

“How could my gambling become a problem? I just go to the casinos to have fun, relax and maybe win a little.” Esther expressed these sentiments after calling my Rancho Mirage office requesting a Gambling Counselor and realizing she may also need a Marriage and Family Therapist. Statistics show that each problem gambler affects eight other family and friends. (Lobsinger) Most addicts and gamblers need the help of spouses, children and parents to help stop the destructive behavior and make healthier decisions. Like other addictions, compulsive gambling, as it is sometimes called, is a progressive disorder which can create tragic financial and emotional consequences. Many find help with Gamblers Anonymous and family assistance so they don’t wreck their credit rating with a bankruptcy.

Today we see three kinds of gamblers. “Action” gamblers tend to bet on horses, cards and get “high” from being “in action” with other gamblers. Secondly, “escape” gamblers usually use slot machines and want to quietly remove themselves from the pressures of daily living. A third kind of problem gambler uses the internet or some combination of action and escape gambling. We know that when any one of these problem gamblers trigger neurotransmitter releases, they may get addicted to gambling and create other serious consequences.

By the time many gamblers seek psychotherapy, they need help handling stress, finances and relationships. Other common issues include anxiety, depression, communication, decision making and parenting. As the gamblers “stop the financial bleeding” it is easier to talk to their spouse or family and begin to enjoy life again. If you wonder whether you might have a gambling problem, click here and take a brief questionnaire. Help is available and the sooner you take a step forward, the sooner you’ll feel relief and improvement in your happiness and health.

Gary Lange, Ph.D.

To learn more about Gary visit


One Comment leave one →
  1. February 9, 2010 12:33 pm

    Ah, thanks! This cleared up some confusion I’ve heard.

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