According to the Canadian Safety Council, gambling addiction has been linked to depression, suicide, bankruptcy, homelessness, and domestic problems.
In the past, gambling has typically been seen as an addiction affecting predominantly men, however, increasing numbers of women are becoming addicted. It is thought that perhaps up to 1/3 of Toronto’s gamblers are women.
Various explanations for problems gambling have been discussed over the years, however, it is clear that certain vulnerable populations of Toronto, such as the mentally ill and impoverished, are at the highest risk of addiction.
Luckily, a variety of treatment options are available for gambling addiction in the Toronto area.
What is a Gambling Addiction?
Gambling addiction is a pattern of altered behavior leading to impairment in social, educational, occupational, or familial areas of life. Many addicts complain about feeling out of control and being preoccupied with their games of chance.
Gambling Addiction Warning Signs
- Lying about gambling
- Being secretive about the amount of time spent gambling
- Psychological withdrawal from gambling
- Unkempt appearance or hygiene problems
- Struggling at school or work
- Constantly thinking about gambling
- Financial problems
- Cheating and stealing
- Mood swings
- Deteriorating relationships
- Sleep deprivation
Who is at Risk for Gambling Addiction?
Toronto’s Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH)states that various reasons such as mental health, difficult life circumstances such as job loss or divorce, and boredom can all contribute to problem gambling.
Toronto Gambling Addiction Treatment Centres
Various treatment options for problem gambling are available in Toronto and the surrounding areas.
A concentration of gambling addiction treatment centers is available in the downtown core. For example, from the Gardiner Expressway, easily accessible centers exist near Richmond Street and Parliament Street. Continuing further north – Yonge Street and Lawrence Avenue East, and further west – Kipling Heights.
In addition, there are also additional centers all over the city that deal with a variety of addictions, not only gambling.
A quick search of treatment centers reveals that the average length of stay is 30 to 45 days. Other addiction issues are usually treated simultaneously. Treatment centers are divided among those who offer inpatient or outpatient services
- Inpatient Programs–Inpatient programs are based on the premise that attending inpatient treatment by removing oneself from the gambling environment may be helpful. These treatment centers can make one aware of one’s triggers and find ways to manage them in the real world after treatment.
- Outpatient Programs – Similarly, outpatient treatment is also approximately 4 weeks. Although not taking the client away from the addictive environment, they still offer support and a treatment plan for dealing with addiction.
This type of treatment is best for clients who cannot financially afford to take a month off work.
Both outpatient and inpatient programs offer a variety of processes, such as counseling, music and art therapy, mindfulness techniques, and fitness regimes.
- Behavioral Modification Programs – Similarly to other addictions, counseling and behavior modification programs such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) have been known to help with gambling addiction.
CBT is believed to alter thought patterns, replacing compulsive gaming with healthier thoughts. By modifying thoughts, a gambler can eventually change their behavior.
12-Step Programs – In addition, 12-step programs are thought to be beneficial for treating gambling addictions as well. For example, addicts can share their experiences at Gamblers Anonymous (GA) meetings and speak with sponsors who help them on their road to recovery. Gamblers Anonymous offers a handy questionnaire for those who believe that may have a gambling problem.
12-step programs can be used in conjunction with CBT therapies as well.
- Helplines – For those unable or not ready to attend treatment, Ontario offers the Ontario Problem Gambling Helpline.
- Aftercare Programs – In addition, since overcoming gambling addiction is a lifelong process, many treatment centers also offer aftercare programs, to help one stay on the path to recovery.
In addition, credit and debt counseling services may provide those in recovery with peace of mind.
Cost of Gambling Addiction Treatment in Toronto
Many treatment centers are privately owned, and prices vary. However, there is a variety of free services available from the government of Ontario, which deal with gambling and also general addiction. These can be used to treat underlying causes of issues for those who cannot afford a private center specifically dedicated to gambling addiction.
Stressful economic times, with close proximity to temptation, have led to increased numbers of Torontonians who are currently suffering from gambling addiction. Luckily, Toronto has a variety of options for treatment, in the form of rehabilitation centers and aftercare programs.
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