How to Overcome a Gambling Addiction
Gambling involves placing something of value on an event that is at least partly determined by chance. It can take many forms: playing bingo, buying lottery or scratch-off tickets, betting on sports events or office pools. It is often viewed as a recreational activity, but if it becomes compulsive it can damage your finances and relationships. It is also a leading cause of depression and anxiety. Treatment can help.
A problem with gambling can lead to family discord, credit card debt, and other financial difficulties. If you or someone you know has a gambling problem, our counsellors can help. We are here 24/7 and can talk to you about your situation for free.
Most people have gambled at one time or another, but some have a real problem with it. The term ‘gambling addiction’ is now widely used to describe compulsive gambling, which is a treatable condition. Symptoms include losing control of your spending, lying about your gambling, and even stealing money to fund gambling.
There are several different types of treatment for gambling addiction, including cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and medication. CBT helps you change unhealthy gambling behaviors and thought patterns, such as irrational beliefs, and learn better ways to manage your money. Medications that treat mental health problems, such as bipolar disorder, may also be helpful.
The first step is to get professional help. Seek out a counselor who has experience treating gambling addiction, and be sure to mention any other health issues you or your loved one might have. Having a strong support network is essential to overcoming an addictive behavior. If you’re struggling with this issue, reach out to your friends and family members, or join a gambling recovery program such as Gamblers Anonymous, which is modeled after Alcoholics Anonymous.
In a gambling addiction, you can have urges to gamble that are too strong to resist, no matter how much you’ve already lost. The impulses can occur anywhere, from a casino to your living room television. They can even be triggered by certain sounds, such as the click of a slot machine’s reels or the ringing of a phone.
You can try to control these urges by not keeping your wallet or ATM card in the same place as your credit cards, and avoiding places where gambling is prevalent, like casinos and racetracks. You can also set spending limits for yourself, and consider asking someone else to manage your money or having the bank put your bills on automatic payments. Also, don’t chase your losses, thinking that you are due for a big win. This is called the ‘gambler’s fallacy’, and it can backfire. Moreover, avoid gambling online, as this is a major source of problems for some people.