While for many people, gambling is a fun pastime and an occasional hobby, for others it is a destructive compulsion.
Compulsive gambling is one of the most-studied behavioral addictions, those addictions that involve an obsession with an activity rather than alcohol or drugs.
Although it doesn’t involve substance abuse, gambling addiction effects can be just as damaging as a drug addiction. Gambling addicts may lose their jobs, go into serious debt, destroy relationships and even end up in jail. If you are struggling with gambling, learn how to get help.
How to beat gambling addiction
It is important to recognize that gambling addiction is a real disease and it requires professional treatment. However, if you are in the early stages of a problem with gambling, you may be able to take control with the support of your loved ones. Tell a few trusted people that you think you have a problem. Ask them to help you cut back and promise to be accountable to them. Don’t go to a casino, online or physical location without having someone with you. If you find you can’t cut back without feeling the need to gamble more, try cutting it out entirely. Fill your free time with other activities and spend more time with your friends and family.
Therapy for gambling addiction
There are many therapists, addiction counselors and other professionals who specialize in treating people with behavioral addictions. Behavioral therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy and psychotherapy are all useful techniques for treating addiction. They can help you learn why you started gambling, why you developed a problem habit, how to change your behaviors, how to avoid triggers for compulsive gamblers and how cope with negative emotions without turning to gambling. You may even find that you have mental health issues underlying your problems. Depression or anxiety disorders, for example, may have led you to gamble as a way of self-medicating. Treating these problems will help you quit gambling.
Support groups for gambling addiction
Therapy is an important way to heal from an addiction, but support from others is also crucial for your success. Look for problem gambling support groups in your area to join. If you can’t find any or you don’t have transportation, look for online groups. Attend meetings regularly and be open to listening to the experiences of others as well as sharing your own story. It may feel uncomfortable at first, but sharing with and supporting others is one of the best ways to beat your gambling addiction and to strengthen your resolve when you feel weak.
There are many ways to stop gambling, but the best strategy is to seek the support of others along with professional help. Quitting on your own is challenging and may fail. To set yourself up for the best odds of success, seek the aid of a professional experienced with behavioral addictions and rely on the support of other gamblers in recovery as well as your friends and family.