What is the link between compulsive gambling and women? Most think of gambling as something men do, but women are twice as likely to suffer from a gambling addiction than men. Many women struggle with this mental health issue and need gambling addiction treatment. Call 844.875.5609 to speak with someone from the knowledgeable team at Promises about our gambling addiction treatment centers throughout the United States.
Compulsive Gambling and Gender Stereotypes
In almost every instance, addiction is seen as an equal opportunity destroyer of lives that is not constrained by barriers related to age, gender, socioeconomic background, or personal history. But compulsive gambling is different because it is mainly seen as a “man’s disease.”
Men and Gambling Addiction
People’s stereotypes about the typical compulsive gambler will lead them to picture that person as a desperate and out-of-control male who neglects his family and work responsibilities because he is always hanging out at the track or the casino. Or, in this modern age, some may imagine a man spending hours a day in front of the computer playing online poker.
Women and Gambling Addiction
Women who gamble are usually assumed to be dabblers who do it to pass the time or while socializing with friends. It would never occur to most that a woman who indulges in the occasional card game or plays a scratch-off ticket might be headed for trouble. However, this perception and its accompanying stereotypes are far removed from reality.
What to Know About Compulsive Gambling and Women
Millions of women in the United States alone suffer from a gambling problem at some point in their lives, and those who do tend to be quite masterful at concealing their behavior from others, which is why counselors who deal with female compulsive gamblers often refer to this disorder as “the hidden addiction.”
Hiding Gambling Addiction
A typical woman struggling with gambling addiction can do any of the following:
- Saying she is going shopping or out to lunch with friends when, in fact, she is headed for the casino
- Making up elaborate stories about where her money has gone and why there isn’t enough to cover expenses
- Struggling financially due to gambling losses but still managing to maintain a neat home and well-groomed children
Among women whose gambling has spiraled out of control, the vast majority—approximately 95%—can be classified as solo gamblers, meaning they practice their activities alone and almost exclusively in secret.
Escaping Dissatisfaction or Emptiness
Experts believe that female compulsive gamblers gamble to escape feelings of emptiness or dissatisfaction. When people develop strategies of evasion to circumvent psychological suffering, they will tend to return to the practices that give them momentary comfort repeatedly, making it easy for a compulsion to develop. This compulsion will keep bringing them back long after the activities in question have ceased to bring pleasure or distraction.
Gambling addiction ruins relationships—divorce rates are double the average when one spouse is a problem gambler. Approximately two-thirds of problem gamblers will, at some point, commit crimes to support their gambling habits.
How to Overcome Gambling Addiction
Treatment for compulsive gambling usually involves a combination of talk therapy with an addiction specialist and regular attendance at peer support group meetings such as those sponsored by Gamblers Anonymous (GA). In many cases, psychiatric drugs are also prescribed to help addicted gamblers control their compulsions, although “anti-gambling drugs” don’t exist.
Treatment for compulsive gambling is complicated because this addiction has one of the highest recidivism rates of any dependency. Those undertaking rehabilitation should be prepared to stay in it long term. Compulsive gamblers suffer from a condition known as euphoric recall, which leads them to experience vivid memories of past gambling successes. It can take quite a long time for the effects of such recollections to lose their power and influence.