Four phases and four treatment steps have been identified in helping people better understand pathological gambling (also known as gambling addiction).
The Four Phases in Gambling Addiction
The Illinois Institute for Addiction Recovery has identified the following four phases in gambling addiction.
The winning phase often starts with a big win, leading to excitement and a positive view of gambling. Problem gamblers believe they have a special talent for gambling and that the winning will continue. They begin spending greater amounts of time and money on gambling.
Problem gamblers become more and more preoccupied with gambling. They start to gamble alone, borrow money, skip work, lie to family and friends and default on debts. They also begin to “chase” their losses.
Problem gamblers lose all control over their gambling. They feel ashamed and guilty after gambling, but they can’t stop. They may cheat or steal to finance their addiction. The consequences of compulsive gambling catch up with them: they may lose their jobs, get divorced, or get arrested.