Dictionary.com’s definition of the word “addiction” is, so to speak, 32 sobering words: “the state of being compulsively engaged in a habit or practice or something that is psychologically or physically, like narcotics. , so much so that stopping it causes serious trauma.

When it comes to gambling addiction, the severe trauma is often caused not by quitting the habit, but by practicing it. When you’re addicted to gambling, you risk ruining your own life and harming the well-being of many people who love and care for you.

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This doesn’t mean that someone who is a compulsive gambler is a bad person or someone who doesn’t deserve love, care and containment – ​​not at all, in fact. What a gambling addiction means is that help is needed. And the best person to help you beat your gambling addiction is still you.

As you will see, success on this journey to quitting problem gambling is almost always one in which you have companionship and support. In other words, you not only don’t have to work to quit gambling on your own, you shouldn’t.

The game: a real addiction


Before we talk about how to end a gambling addiction, let’s be clear that gambling can be a real addiction like the one people have with narcotics, nicotine, alcohol, pharmaceuticals, etc. . This is not behavior that a gambling addict can simply prevent a will – if it were, he would.

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According to Help Guide, a gambling addiction can also be referred to as compulsive gambling, pathological gambling, or gambling disorder. racing, casino games, sports betting and so on. Almost anything can become the basis for a bet, so for the addict, almost any place on the planet can be filled with triggers. This is why you really need to beat your gambling addiction, not just try to hide from it.

1. Establish and accept that you have a gambling problem

the man looks at himself in the mirror

Pathological gambling was recognized as a mental disorder by the American Psychiatric Association in 1980, according to Business Insider. It is a known, named and accepted disorder in the eyes of some of the most trusted mental health professionals in the world. So you can accept that your gambling problem isn’t just a character flaw or an occasional problem, it’s a problem. which can (and probably will) define your life until you can overcome it.

If gambling has caused problems in your life, straining your relationships, your job, your finances, and your happiness, this is probably a problem for you. If you often think about gambling even when you’re not at the table, lane, or gambling, that’s a red flag for gambling addiction. And if you’ve engaged in gambling-related behavior , you know it’s objectively a bad idea but you can’t seem to help it, that’s your confirmation.

2. Identify and address potential underlying causes

woman suffers from anxiety leaning against the bed

Compulsive gambling is often correlated – and sometimes causally linked – with other mood disorders and mental health problems. People who suffer from chronic depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety or substance abuse issues and other emotional health issues are often more prone to risky behaviors, with gambling ranking highly among them.

Your gambling problem may be symptomatic of other mood disorders, so it’s important that you look for potential underlying causes.

If you have been diagnosed with any of the aforementioned afflictions in the past, then a major cause of your gambling problem may be easy to understand. If not, you may still benefit from an assessment for mental health issues, as they may have gone untreated for many years.

And even without a clinical diagnosis of bipolar disorder or depression or another mood disorder, there may still be underlying causes for your gambling, such as childhood stress and trauma that left emotional scars or the stress of your current situation that compels you to seek relief and release, even in potentially damaging ways.

3. Establish a support network

Close-up of someone holding an iphone

With a gambling problem clearly identified and accepted, the next thing to do is to build your support network that will help you deal with the problem. In an acute moment of concern, you can always use a service like SAMHSA’s national hotline at 1-800-662-HELP (or 4357) and speak to a mental health professional right away.

You should also contact Gambler’s Anonymous and find groups you can join for in-person meetings and online forums. These groups can guide you through multi-step recovery programs that are very effective for many people.

It’s also a good idea to work with a psychologist, therapist or other mental health professional who can offer one-on-one support and advice.

And don’t hesitate to share your problems and hope for recovery with trusted friends and family members. They want what’s best for you and when they know what’s hardest for you, they can help you – and be honest with yourself: many of them probably already know your problem.

4. Consider your treatment options

man's hands on therapist's table

As noted, working with a psychologist or therapist can be a great way to overcome a gambling addiction, but many people with a pathological gambling addiction that is harming their lives also turn to medication for help. Medications like Prozac, Cipralex, or other SSRIs that can treat depression can be effective in reducing the cravings that problem gamblers experience, as can mood stabilizers like lithium or divalproex sodium.

A gambling treatment program combining medication and talk therapy can do wonders for the addict, especially when negative behaviors are not only stopped, but replaced. You can practice anything from mindful meditation to exercise to new hobbies to beneficially fill in a space you may initially be lacking when you stop playing.

5. Establish countermeasures that will help you avoid problem gambling

council between two men in the sunny room during the day

Almost everyone with an addiction will relapse several times as they overcome their problem. To avoid falling back into a gambling addiction, you must accept this possibility. Or, to use a more charged term given our context, this probability. To do this, you can set up various protections.

For example, retaining the services of a CFO may be worth the expense if it puts someone with fiduciary responsibility in a place that can prevent you from withdrawing and spending recklessly while in a gaming space. You can also create a bank account that will be linked to all your expenses, such as mortgage, credit card bills, etc., and then never have an ATM or debit card linked to this very important account, so you cannot drain the necessary finances in a moment of weakness.

And finally, again, lean on that support network. A text message to a therapist or a call to another gambling addict can prevent you from placing that bet, and every bet you don’t make is a win.


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