Ways To Stop Gambling
1. Get to the Root of the Issue
Are you gambling out of boredom, stress, loneliness, or depression? Identify what your main triggers are, and seek professional help for whatever challenge you are facing that is causing you to gamble.
2. Distract Yourself with a New or Old Hobby
When you quit gambling, your brain will crave the adrenaline that it got when you would gamble. Try to learn something new every day, and challenge yourself.
You may get this high through sports and exercise, or through doing something mentally stimulating such as learning to play a musical instrument. You can also rekindle a hobby that you enjoyed before gambling started to take over.
This will help establish a familiar sense of routine, and as you put more focus into your hobbies, you may also find joy in something that is completely separate from gambling.
3. Learn Ways to Cope and Handle Triggers
Gambling is often used as an escape from troubling thoughts and emotions. Gambling addiction therapy offers valuable insights into how you developed this addiction and ways to stop gambling for good, especially when triggers are present.
In addition to therapy, you can also look into finding new ways to relax your mind and body such as meditation, taking a bath with lavender bath salts, watching your favorite movie, or drinking a warm cup of tea.
4. Surround Yourself with Positive Influences
5. Write in a Journal
The Odds Are Against You
There is a tiny minority of people who make a living by gambling, but unless you are an expert in statistical analysis, you are most likely in the vast majority who dont win.
If youarean expert in statistical analysis, you would know that the odds are stacked high against you. Its one of the reasons the United States leads the world in gambling losses.
According to the American Gaming Association, there are plenty of places to bet with 987 casinos open in 2021. In fact, in the 2020 elections three more states Virginia, Nebraska and Colorado authorized or expanded casino gambling. There are now 33 states where gambling is legal and another seven are working to join them.
The casinos in Nevada and New Jersey are the most obvious spots, but hardly the only places to gamble. Native American casinos operate in 28 states with annual revenue of nearly $30 billion.
And gambling does not have to take place in a casino at all. There are horse tracks, dog tracks, jai-alai frontons, daily fantasy leagues and online gambling sites for those so inclined. In fact, gambling of some kind is permitted in every state in the U.S., except in Utah and Hawaii.
The easiest place to gamble is probably right in your neighborhood where you can buy a state lottery ticket or play in the weekly poker game at a friends house. Either place can take a big bite out of the family budget if you spend $200-$300 a week to get your fix.
How A Gambling Problem Begins
According to Scientific American, this first step hasnt always been an easy one because in the past, the psychiatric community generally regarded pathological gambling as more of a compulsion than an addictiona behavior primarily motivated by the need to relieve anxiety rather than a craving for intense pleasure. They go on to report that it wasnt until the 1980s that the American Psychiatric Association formally declared gambling addiction an actual disorder in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders .
This change came about based on research that found that gambling affects the brain in much the same way as drugs. By impacting the reward center of the brain and increasing dopamine production, excessive gambling can easily become an issue that entices a person to continue to engage in this activity even when they know they shouldnt.
They are constantly chasing the high that gambling gives them.
However, research also suggests that there are some distinct brain-related differences that may present a problem for gamblers, too. One such study was presented at the European College of Neuropsychopharmacology Congress in Berlin in 2014 and further discussed by Medical Daily. It noted that the opioid system in a gamblers brain tends to respond differently than the opioid system in the brain of someone who doesnt have a gambling issue.
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Losses Lead To More Games
Another tell-tale sign we noticed is that problem gamblers cannot walk away from the game unless prompted by the lack of resources. An addict will chase losses, thinking they will get their money back despite their better reasoning.
Consequently, problem gamblers play even when they do not have any more money to spend. They either steal or begin to sell their possessions. Often, they will sell the property of their family and savings meant to pay the bills or credits will also disappear into a game.
Find Ways That Help You Cope Better With Stress
Stress is the barometer of how we manage our emotions and can be a major contributing factor in relapse from gambling recovery. It is vital to find new, healthy ways to cope with stress, whether that is physical exercise, meditation, hypnotherapy or talking to a trusted friend. The risks are that the temptation to gamble will become stronger and stronger as you become more stressed.
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College Students And Online Gambling
College students are among the most vulnerable when it comes to gambling. The combination of free time and easy access to student loan money doesnt mix well. About 75% of college students have gambled in the last year, and 6% of young adults have a gambling problem a higher rate than adults according to the National Center for Responsible Gaming.
There are state lotteries that 18 year-olds can play, and some casinos have an 18+ policy on poker, but the real cause has been the rise of online gambling.
The Unlawful Internet Gambling Act of 2006 tried to restrict online gambling, targeting poker sites such as PokerStars, Absolute Poker and Full Tilt Poker. Online poker has survived in five states and online sports books like Bovada and BetOnline lead a host of only sports betting sites.
Fantasy sports were declared a game of skill and excluded from the UIGEA, giving way to an explosion of daily fantasy sports leagues, like DraftKings and FanDuel, in recent years. You may remember them from their $200 million ad campaign in 2015. Fantasy sports have long been a popular recreational activity, with 46 million people playing in the U.S. in 2019. Now it has become a feeding ground for former online poker professionals.
Fanduel and DraftKings operate in 41 states, but are blocked in Arizona, Alabama, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Louisiana, Montana, Nevada and Washington.
Dont be afraid to seek help.
What Is Problem Gambling
Anyone with a gambling addiction is said to have a gambling problem. However, its worth noting that a person can have a gambling problem without being completely out of control.
Problem gambling describes individuals facing adverse consequences from their gambling. However, they do not meet the criteria for their behavior to be considered gambling addiction or pathological gambling.
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Is Gambling Addiction A Problem For Me
- Think about gambling a great deal of your time?
- Lie about your gambling to others?
- Gamble while bills go unpaid?
- Borrow money to finance your gambling?
- Miss work because of your gambling?
- Feel anxious, depressed or even suicidal after you gamble, but not quitting?
If you answered yes to any of these, you could have a gambling addiction problem.
Whats Needed To Beat A Gambling Addiction
What are the kinds of things that you have to do and that have to change in your life for your gambling recovery to be successful?
Get rid of these assumptions. This wont be easy to accept. Some popular assumptions about gambling are merely traps. By buying into them, youre only defeating your ultimate goal to quit gambling.
- Willpower isnt enough Many well-meaning self-help gurus may tell you that with strength of willpower, anything is possible. For a problem or compulsive gambler, willpower may only last until the next urge pops into their mind and wont leave. Tell a starving man that willpower will make the hunger go away and see how good that does. Same principle applies with the gambling addict. You cant tell yourself that youre strong enough to stay away from gambling and expect that it will do anything other than reinforce your feelings of worthlessness, remorse, guilt and shame when you go right back to gambling.
- Youre not sick While opinions are divided on whether or not addiction is a disease, get out of the mindset that youre sick. Youre not dying of cancer thats a disease. Gambling addiction is a type of impulse-control disorder and its completely treatable. People who look upon themselves as sick have a built-in excuse: Its not my fault. I cant help it. Ditch that assumption right now. It wont do you any good, and will probably derail your efforts to overcome your gambling addiction.
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Get Help For Compulsive Gambling
In order to stop gambling, there needs to be an admission that theres a problem this may typically come after a large loss or losing a substantial amount of money over several days. Get in touch with Priory today to see how we can help to treat gambling addiction.
The most effective method of treating gambling addiction is via a comprehensive programme of addiction therapy. However, if you are struggling with gambling addiction alongside another co-occurring condition, such as depression or anxiety, it may be appropriate for you to be prescribed medication to help with this dual diagnosis. If you are diagnosed with a further mental health condition alongside gambling addiction, your treatment programme may involve inpatient treatment to ensure that any prescribed medication such as antidepressants are being taken at the effective dose.
Get in Touch Today
For details of how Priory can provide you with assistance regarding gambling addiction treatment and rehabilitation, please call 0800 144 8969 or . For professionals looking to make a referral, please click here
What To Do If You Feel Like Gambling
- Talk to your support person.
- Write your feelings and actions in your gambling diary. If you gambled, look at what happened and see if you can spot ways of stopping it next time. Look for the positives too. Did cash limits help? Did you find it easier to talk about it instead of lying about it? These are big steps forward. Next time it will be easier to cope.
- Control your cash. See the Better Health Channel fact sheet Gambling financial issues for more information.
- Fill in the gap that gambling has left with new things to do.
- Practise your relaxation.
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Does Someone I Know Have A Gambling Addiction
People with gambling disorder often hide their behaviour, but there are warning signs that gambling has become a problem for someone you know. These may include:
- missing money or household valuables
- borrowing money regularly
- feelings of helplessness, depression, or feeling suicidal
- unexplained absences from important events or commitments.
- performance at work is affected, taking more sick days
If You’re Affected By Someone’s Gambling
If you’re having problems because of another person’s gambling, it’s best to be honest with them about it. They need to know how their behaviour is affecting you.
Support is also available to people who are worried about someone else’s gambling:
GamCare Gamcare offers support and information for partners, friends and family of people who gamble compulsively.
GamAnon Local support groups for anyone affected by someone else’s gambling problem find your nearest group.
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How To Help Someone Stop Gambling
If your loved one has a gambling problem, you likely have many conflicting emotions. You may have spent a lot of time and energy trying to keep your loved one from gambling or having to cover for them. At the same time, you might be furious at your loved one for gambling again and tired of trying to keep up the charade. Your loved one may have borrowed or even stolen money with no way to pay it back. They may have sold family possessions or run up huge debts on joint credit cards.
While compulsive and problem gamblers need the support of their family and friends to help them in their struggle to stop gambling, the decision to quit has to be theirs. As much as you may want to, and as hard as it is seeing the effects, you cannot make someone stop gambling. However, you can encourage them to seek help, support them in their efforts, protect yourself, and take any talk of suicide seriously.
Preventing suicide in problem gamblers
When faced with the consequences of their actions, problem gamblers can suffer a crushing drop in self-esteem. This is one reason why there is a high rate of suicide among compulsive gamblers. If you suspect your loved one is feeling suicidal, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline in the U.S. at 1-800-273-8255 or visit Befrienders Worldwide to find a suicide helpline in your country.
Be Especially Vigilant Leading Up To Special Events
Research has indicated that gamblers tend to have difficulties with the management of impulse control and with delaying gratification. Recognise the need to bolster your resolve when special events are approaching.
If you had been a sports gambler, for example, then special events such as football World Cups and European Championships, the Wimbledon tennis tournament, the Cheltenham Festival, Royal Ascot or the Ryder Cup can be particularly challenging. Perhaps you need to avoid the increased hype within the media surrounding these events, especially when bookmaking firms offer special offers.
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How To Pay Off Gambling Debt
Once the addiction has been treated, its time to deal with the debts that resulted. There are several avenues to address that issue, but one that seldom is suggested would be to put them in touch with a credit counselor from a nonprofit debt management agency.
The credit counselors can help them get on a budget and assist with things like reducing interest rates on credit cards. This is usually a long process so family and friends of a gamble should be patient while waiting for a successful outcome.
Gambling debt is no different than other types of debt. You often owe multiple people or creditors money plain and simple. You need to develop a plan to pay them back.
Live Your Life One Day At A Time
This means trying to forget about what happened yesterday, including your gambling losses. A desire to get even with the bookmakers or casinos will restrict your ability to focus on your recovery issues. Taking your life one day at a time also means not worrying about what tomorrow might hold for you in your life. Keep the focus on what you can do today that will help your ongoing recovery from addiction.
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Treatment For Gambling Addiction
Similar to other behavioral addictions, therapists have found that compulsive gamblers respond positively to pharmacological and psychosocial treatment. Cognitive behavioral therapy has shown to be particularly effective in addressing gambling addictions, as it teaches relapse prevention skills and how to change habits, as well as identifying the underlying cause of addiction. Additionally, support groups and 12-step programs, like Gamblers Anonymous, are helpful as they offer judgment-free support for fellow recovering gambling addicts.
Heal The Psychological Root
According to experts, becoming aware of having a gambling addiction is the first step to ending it. Being conscious of the negative consequences of excessive gambling can be a huge motivation to take action. But it is also tough to take the blame solely on ourselves.
That is why the second step is admitting to the vulnerabilities that pushed someone to resort to addictive gambling behaviour in the first place. Heres a list of questions to be answered:
- Was it a deep shame they have not resolved?
- Are they suppressing a deep psychological need?
- What elements of their lives are so stressful that they feel they cannot solve it, thus following the irresistible urge to escape it through gambling?
Healing the root cause instead of only dealing with the symptom is always the best method of ensuring long-lasting relief and permanent healing. And addiction, according to professional psychologists, is invariably a symptom.
Thats not to say that symptom management is not essential. On the contrary, there are many specific things one can do to replace their gambling pattern.
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Rekindle An Old Hobby
Invariably, gamblers will lose interest in hobbies as they become more and more addicted to their gambling. After you have stopped, it is important to rekindle old hobbies. This will not only boost your self-esteem but will also provide a regular reminder of your new way of life.
Like most behavioural addictions, it is important to find a more healthy activity to replace negative addiction. This will keep you focused on the benefits of your new way of life rather than on what you are missing out on.
Potential Signs And Symptoms Of A Gambling Addiction
Gambling addiction is a mental health issue and there are no physical symptoms associated with compulsive gambling but there are a number of behavioural signs that you need to be on the lookout for, including:
The inability to control, reduce or stop gambling no matter how hard you try.
Developing a need to gamble with larger and larger amounts of money to reach your desired levels of excitement.
Being restless, irritable and distracted when you are unable to gamble or when you try to stop gambling.
Prioritising gambling over all other activities and obligations.
A preoccupation with gambling and constantly discussing or reliving your latest or greatest gambling experiences.
An obsession with finding money to continue gambling and spending the rent money or household funds on gambling.
Chasing your losses and continuing to gamble in an attempt to win back what you have lost.
Lying to family, friends, co-workers and therapists to hide the severity of your gambling compulsion.
Sneaking off to gamble and lying about where you are going.
Feeling distressed, helpless, guilty, anxious or depressed because of your gambling problems.
Sacrificing personal and professional relationships, career opportunities or your education in order to gamble.
Experiencing financial hardship and borrowing money from friends and family to fund your gambling addiction or meet other financial obligations, like rent, mortgage payments and household bills.
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