Long thought of as a disorder affecting men, rates of gambling addiction have steadily climbed among women. Understanding the reasons why women use gambling to cope can help to identify the most effective methods of treatment.
You are stressed out, overwhelmed by the pressures of your job and family obligations, and are struggling to find an outlet for your anxiety. Scrolling through your phone, you come across a casino game, and after a couple of trial rounds, you decide to sign up. It’s fun, takes your mind off of your day, and sometimes you win a little – so what’s the harm?
Over the past two years, more and more women have developed a gambling addiction as they have turned to online apps as a way of coping with stress. The stresses of the pandemic led to an unprecedented rise in mental health issues across the globe, as people struggled to manage health and financial concerns while dealing with the isolation imposed during lockdowns. This included a notable increase in women seeking help for gambling addictions. While many consider gambling addiction to be largely a men’s issue, the number of women reaching out for help shows that anyone can be affected.
Why Do Women Gamble?
A 2017 report by the UK Gambling Commission revealed a rapidly closing gap between male and female gamblers, with 44% of women reporting having gambled at least once in the previous month, and 53% of men gambling during the same period. During the pandemic, the number of women contacting a gambling addiction helpline in the UK increased by 4%.
Unlike male gamblers, who tend to be motivated by the thrill and the potential to win, research has shown that women use gambling as a way to escape or numb feelings of anxiety and depression. The anonymity of gambling is often appealing, particularly if they are feeling overburdened and overwhelmed by stress or emotions.
Typical forms of gambling that women prefer include visits to casinos to play the slot machines, but also online gambling like Bingo and sports betting. While gambling may begin as a casual habit with few consequences, the stress of a major life event such as divorce or retirement may be a factor in the development of an addiction.
What are the Signs of a Gambling Addiction?
If you have been gambling casually, it may be hard to tell if you’ve actually developed an addiction. It is also common to be in denial about problem gambling, particularly if there are feelings of shame, fear, or embarrassment around it. It is important to remember that addiction is a mental health disorder, not a personal failing or lack of willpower, and that professional treatment is both necessary and often successful in helping to manage and overcome it. Some signs of a gambling disorder include things like:
- Lying to others about your gambling
- Being preoccupied with gambling
- Feeling restless, irritable, or anxious if you try to stop gambling
- Attempting to cut back or stop gambling, but being unsuccessful
- Gambling as an escape or a way to cope with depression, anxiety, or helplessness
If you are concerned that you or a loved one may be struggling with a gambling disorder, connecting with a mental health specialist is a critical first step in understanding what the treatment options are.
What are Barriers to Treatment that Women Face?
Despite being more likely than men to realise that they have a problem, women often avoid seeking treatment due to shame and social stigma. Stereotypes about gambling addiction as well as women’s roles as caretakers of their family can create barriers to seeking treatment, particularly if they’ve already been criticised or judged for their gambling.
Women also may feel uncomfortable attending male-dominated support groups, especially if they’re using gambling to mentally escape from an abusive relationship or they feel that others in the group don’t take their problem seriously.
Finding treatment that recognises the specific challenges women face while overcoming a gambling disorder, and that creates a safe and supportive space to explore and treat the disorder, is essential for women to get the help they need.
How is Gambling Addiction Treated?
Though gambling disorder can be seriously disruptive to a person’s daily life, professional treatment can help people manage and overcome this condition. Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is a common and effective form of treatment for gambling disorder. This type of talk therapy works with a client to identify negative beliefs and patterns of thought, explore where those come from, and then work to establish new, healthy patterns. CBT also helps develop positive coping mechanisms to deal with stress.
Additionally, an addiction specialist will investigate if there are other co-occurring disorders that may be present along with the gambling disorder, such as depression or anxiety. If these are uncovered, a specialist will work to create a comprehensive treatment plan that addresses all aspects of the patient’s mental health in order to achieve the best outcomes.
Support groups can also play an important role in recovery, allowing people to share their experiences with a group of people who have been through similar situations and truly understand the impacts of gambling disorder. Support groups act as a safe space to talk about triggers, fears, and successes in recovery. For women, it’s important to find a group that is inclusive of women and attuned to any barriers that women may face.
Overcoming Gambling Addiction at The Dawn
The Dawn Wellness Centre and Rehab Thailand offers an environment of personal growth and healing for people who want to change their lives and heal from addiction and mental health issues. Internationally accredited by the American Accreditation Commission International (AACI) and nationally licensed by the Thai Ministry of Health, The Dawn offers highly customised programming tailored to each of our clients’ specific needs.
The “Twin Pillars” Approach – A Unique and Effective Treatment for Gambling Disorder
The Dawn has crafted a signature treatment method known as the Twin Pillars. It combines the most effective psychotherapies currently in use with a range of scientifically-proven wellness practises to achieve holistic healing.
Our team of experienced specialists will work with you to identify the root cause of your gambling disorder, determine if there are any co-occurring disorders present, and then develop a treatment plan to address all parts of the addiction. You will leave our gambling rehab Thailand programme feeling in control of your disorder, and with a toolbox full of resources and coping skills that you can use whenever you need them.
Seeking Gambling Rehab in Thailand
The Dawn is conveniently located just outside the beautiful city of Chiang Mai, Thailand, a one-hour flight from the country’s capital of Bangkok. At our tranquil riverfront property, surrounded by picturesque rice fields and traditional Thai villages, you are completely removed from your triggers, the people, places and things that contribute to your condition, and immersed in a safe and soothing environment. With client admission capped at just 35 people, everyone is on a first-name basis, and you’ll feel part of a welcoming community from the moment you arrive.
Call The Dawn today to learn more about how we can help you overcome a gambling disorder and regain control and balance in your life.