What is a gambling addiction?

Gambling addiction (also known as pathological or compulsive gambling, or problem gambling) is a serious impulse-control disorder; which can have devastating life effects. Gambling addiction comes in many forms including sports betting, slot machines and other casino games,  bingo, national lottery, scratch cards, and stocks and shares.

As with all addictions, the behaviour can go from a form of fun, enjoyment or a hobby – into an obsession with a multitude of unhealthy consequences. If gambling is causing issues in your life, you should seek professional help. Recovery is possible, and early intervention for a gambling addiction will promote more positive outcomes.

Signs and symptoms of a gambling addiction

  • You feel out of control over your gambling
  • You chase losses until you have gambled all your finances more
  • You hide your gambling from family, friends and colleagues
  • You spend money you do not have
  • You slide into even more debt
  • You sell possessions, lie, cheat or steal to fund your gambling
  • You become totally preoccupied with gambling

Treating gambling addiction 

Some people do recover from addiction with no professional treatment, and there is not only one path. However, the evidence is clear – professional treatment works and makes it more likely that people begin recovery and continue in recovery.

An effective first step can be a consultation with an addictions therapist, or a consultant psychiatrist specialising in addiction. Depending on the severity of the addiction, patients can either be supported in an outpatient setting or participate in an intensive inpatient programme.

Our approach to treating gambling addiction at Nightingale Hospital combines individualised treatment programmes that are based on current clinical evidence.

You may attend as an outpatient, day patient or inpatient.


We treat gambling addiction using Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), Motivational Enhancement Therapy (MET), Interpersonal Therapy (IPT) and Twelve-Step Facilitation (TSF) we consider biological, psychological and social factors in our gambling addiction programmes.

Our programmes are designed to help break the cycle of gambling, recognise causes and offer support for a range of life problems including debt management and self-esteem. We also treat connected problems such as depression, stress, fatigue and alcohol and drug addiction if required alongside.

Alternative therapies

Through therapy and education on problem gambling and alternative approaches such as mindfulness, sleep therapy and physical therapies we aim to give you the knowledge and coping skills for living without gambling.

Family support groups

Those nearest to the sufferer often blame themselves, going through a range of emotions from despair, depression and guilt to anger and frustration, leaving them exhausted and having difficulty coping, as well as feeling powerless in how to deal with the situation.

Research has shown that the involvement of families in the treatment process greatly increases the prospects of a person’s recovery.

Addiction monthly free family day

Our addictions family day takes place once a month and is led by an addictions and family specialist therapist. It consists of two groups.

One group is for family and partners only. It will offer them education in not only how to deal with the addicted person, but also how to safeguard themselves in this difficult situation. This can allow you to help your loved one in a healthy way while still being able to lead your own life.

The other group is to bring together the families and partners and the addicted person. It gives the addicted person the opportunity to learn how their addiction has affected family members and partners. It gives a forum for them both to express their thoughts and feelings.

Addiction weekly family free support group

Family support groups are aimed at families, partners and friends of people suffering from an addiction problem. When these problems arise, it can have a devastating effect on those who are close to the person. Our family support groups can be a huge source of emotional support.


Avoiding relapse is the greatest challenge so we offer step down programmes, individual counselling and free aftercare and family support groups to sustain motivation against problem gambling.

Free telephone consultation

We offer a free telephone consultation to determine if gambling addiction treatment and rehabilitation would be right for you or a loved one. Complete the form below and a member of our expert addictions team will be in touch to arrange an appointment.

Gambling addiction specialists at Nightingale Hospital

Nightingale Hospital London has a number of consultant psychiatrists and specialist therapists that can help you with gambling addiction.

It is vital you find a specialist that you can trust and work with on your recovery.

Our addiction treatment team is led by:

  • Dr Anshul Swami – Lead Consultant for Addiction Services, Consultant Psychiatrist at Nightingale Hospital
  • Patrick Maxwell – Lead Therapist for Addictions, Nightingale Hospital

Useful resources

“When you have a problem and you drink, take drugs or gamble, the problem won’t go away. Stay and tackle the problem”