What is gambling addiction? Otherwise known as compulsive gambling, pathological gambling, or gambling disorder, gambling addiction refers to the uncontrollable compulsion or urge to gamble, despite the consequences it may have on your life. As an impulse-control disorder, people with a gambling disorder are unable to suppress the urge to gamble no matter what. Oftentimes, this can lead to financial, relationship, and even health problems. If you’re struggling with compulsive gambling, our holistic treatment center in Lake Worth is sharing some tips on how to stop gambling for good.
Tips on How to Stop Gambling Addiction
Like drug or alcohol use, gambling can stimulate the release of dopamine in the brain, a chemical that plays a role in the way we feel pleasure, happiness, and reward. Dopamine is often released naturally by the brain when we do something we enjoy, like eating.
For some people, gambling produces a rush of euphoria, similar to that of a drug high or alcohol buzz, that encourages further compulsive gambling. In the long run, the desire to continually feel this rush of joy becomes addictive.
Like substance abuse, pathological gambling can lead to a variety of problems, including debt and financial issues, loss of work, relationship problems, and even drug or alcohol abuse. If you’re struggling to manage this habit, below are some tips on how to quit gambling that can help you change your life for the better.
Accept the Problem
A lot of people struggle with getting over gambling addiction because they’re in denial of the problem. This is also common in people with drug or alcohol use disorders for various reasons.
Gambling can become a compulsive need that may provide a temporary sense of fulfillment. Maybe you’re worried about stopping because you don’t want to give up that rush.
However, compulsive gambling is a serious problem that can lead to serious consequences, and the only way to beat gambling addiction is to learn about the problem and admit it to yourself. If you’re unsure whether you have an actual gambling disorder, the American Psychiatric Association identifies gambling as a mental disorder characterized by the following symptoms:
- The strong urge to gamble with larger amounts of money as time passes
- Feeling restless or irritable when not gambling
- Making repeated and unsuccessful attempts to quit gambling
- Finding yourself completely preoccupied with gambling
- Gambling to manage stress
- Gambling to “get even”
- Lying to friends, co-workers, and loved ones about gambling
- Losing relationships or creating conflict about gambling
- Needing financial support after losing money to gambling
Be honest with yourself when you look over the signs of gambling addiction, or better yet, ask a loved one about their opinion of your gambling behavior. Sometimes changing your perspective will help you see the issue more clearly.
Write Down the Consequences
Speaking of admitting the problem to yourself, another way to quit gambling addiction is to write down the consequences and the negative impact it’s had on your life. Keep this list in your wallet or on your dresser, or somewhere you’ll see it every day.
How has your gambling affected your relationships? How has it impacted your co-workers, families, friends, or spouse? Although this exercise can be heavy on the heart, for many, it provides the necessary push needed to move forward and progress in recovery.
Anytime you feel the urge to gamble, read your list and think of all the people that will be affected. Think of the impact it’ll have on your finances, career, and mental health.
Speak to A Loved One
Speaking to a loved one that you can trust about your compulsive gambling can ease the weight of the shame, guilt, and sadness often caused by this behavior. Not only does sharing your struggles with someone close offer you much-needed support, but it also equips them to be on the lookout for you.
Share your struggles with a close loved one so they can be there for you and keep you accountable when the urge to gamble presents itself. Keeping yourself isolated from others will only hurt your chances of recovery and worsen the situation.
Identify Your Triggers
With addictions come cravings, so one of our most important tips to quit gambling is to identify the things that trigger these cravings or urges. Cravings are strong urges to engage in the desired behavior, and as a gambler, this may include doing things like calling your bookie, cashing a paycheck, going to the casino, or other behaviors linked to gambling.
Cravings or urges can be intense, and sometimes it may feel as if they are non-stop. But they don’t last forever, and as long as you can identify these triggers and avoid them or postpone the sensation, you can maintain your recovery.
An excellent way to identify these issues is by writing them down or allowing yourself to go through a craving. Think about what caused it. Where were you? What were you thinking about? How were you feeling?
Once you build an understanding of the situation, you can come up with thoughts or actions that will distract you from these urges. These may include breathing exercises, going for walks, or calling a friend.
Find Alternatives to Gambling
Avoiding triggers and keeping yourself distracted when experiencing cravings are great ways to stop gambling addiction, but you also need to work on your mental state. In addition to stopping some activities and avoiding things, we also encourage you to replace harmful habits with good ones.
By finding alternatives, such as fun hobbies, to fill in the gaps that gambling left behind, you can shift your focus and stay on track. Some alternatives to gambling you can try include:
- Physical activity (going for walks, playing a sport, yoga, or weightlifting)
- Spending time with loved ones who do not gamble
- Trying out new hobbies
Analyze Your Friend Group
We tend to inherit the habits of those with whom we spend lots of time, which is normal. But if you want to stop gambling, then it’s important to take a step back and think of who you spend most of your time with.
Do most of your friends enjoy gambling, as well? Have they encouraged you to gamble in moments where they knew you were trying to quit? Have they given you money to gamble?
When you’re recovering from something as impactful as an addiction, it’s important to change every area of your life so it can complement your goals, and this includes the people you spend time with. So if your friends are encouraging your gambling habits instead of supporting your recovery, then you may want to cut some ties.
Seek Professional Treatment
Sometimes, quitting gambling isn’t possible to do without some professional help, and that’s okay. If your gambling is severe, the responsible and safe thing to do is to find treatment as soon as possible.
Our Palm Beach rehab employs comprehensive methods to teach patients how to stay away from gambling and sustain their recovery on their own. With the help of our professional counselors and therapists, you or a loved one can achieve freedom from gambling addiction.
Gambling Addiction Treatment
The best way to help someone with a gambling disorder is to assist them in finding professional care. Behavioral Health of the Palm Beaches offers gambling addiction treatment for those who want to overcome compulsive gambling and change their lives for the better.
Our mental health rehab in Florida incorporates various methods, including cognitive behavioral therapy, to help patients under the causes of their conditions and teach them the skills they’ll need to avoid relapse in the future. Additionally, if your gambling addiction co-occurs with a substance use disorder, our Palm Beach addiction center also offers dual diagnosis treatment that treats both conditions individually.