How To Stop a Gambling Addiction

Those who don’t have a gambling problem are often confused about why this is considered an addiction.

However, research has found that Disordered Gambling is an impulse-control disorder with similar attributes to substance abuse disorder.

Furthermore, it often co-occurs with other psychiatric conditions, such as substance abuse, stress, depression, anxiety, and other personality disorders.

Therefore, compulsive gambling refers to the inability to control the compulsion to gamble, despite any negative consequences on the gambler’s life or loved ones. But how do you know when you’ve got a problem with gambling?

Look at the symptoms of gambling addiction below, which may help you to answer that question.

  • A preoccupation with gambling
  • Gambling with increased amounts of money
  • Lying about gambling activities to loved ones
  • Repeated unsuccessful attempts to quit gambling
  • Irritability or agitation when trying to stop gambling (withdrawal)
  • Adverse effects on the person’s life from the interference of gambling
  • Continued attempts to regain recent gambling-related losses (chasing losses)
  • Unfortunately, gamblers will gamble whether they win or not. The gambling impulse to continue is just too strong to ignore, despite the odds of losing. [1]

Problem Gambling

However, gambling doesn’t need to be a full-time addiction, nor do you have to be totally out of control for it to cause a problem in a gambler’s life.

The NHS defines problem gambling as ‘gambling that is disruptive or damaging to you or your family or interferes with your daily life.’

Therefore, any gambling behaviour that harms an individual’s life can be problem gambling.

Have you become obsessed with gambling? Has trying to recoup our losses turned into a full-time job? Are you spending excessive amounts of time and money gambling despite the negative consequences? If this sounds like you, you probably have a problem with gambling.

To receive help for gambling addiction and any co-occurring conditions, it’s essential to address the problem and get the treatment you need.[2]

How To Stop Gambling

Becoming addicted to gambling is nothing to be ashamed of; it can affect anyone at any time.

Unfortunately, what can begin as a fun recreational activity can turn into an unhealthy obsession in the blink of an eye, with detrimental effects on your life.

If your online or in-person betting on sports, casinos, roulette, poker, slots, lottery, or just scratch cards is getting out of hand, please try to get help.

Overcoming a gambling compulsion is essential to reduce the negative impact on relationships, work, finances and decrease any chances of losing your home or participating in illegal activity.

However, you don’t have to do this alone; there are many helpful ways and support available to reduce or quit gambling.

Self-help tips for Quitting gambling

See the below for important ways to help yourself with your gambling problem.

  • Firstly, if you want to live a gambling free life, it’s essential to admit that you have a problem with gambling that you can’t control
  • Always remember to pay your essential bills before engaging in any gambling activities. Missing your mortgage, loan or car repayments can be detrimental to your life
  • Spending time with family and friends who do not gamble can be beneficial
  • Please don’t ignore your debts; it’s far better to deal with them. You can visit the National Debtline for help and advice
  • It’s essential not to see gambling as a source of income; instead, try to view it as entertainment rather than a way to make money
  • Don’t bottle up your anxieties about gambling. Try to talk to just one individual that makes you feel comfortable. It’s helpful to share your problem with your family or friends, who will only want to help you
  • When you do gamble, never take credit cards, or have credits in reach to avoid overspending and getting into debt
  • Finding better alternatives to gambling helps avoid triggers and distracting gamblers from their cravings. Finding healthy, positive choices to gambling can also improve your physical and mental state. Options such as exercise (walking, swimming, or sports), meditation, mindfulness, trying out new hobbies, volunteering, or travelling are all perfectly acceptable
  • Similarly, keeping yourself mentally and physically healthy is essential to provide you with some of the resilience and energy you need to work towards recovery. Eating well, sleeping plenty, relaxing, meditating, exercising, and socialising with people that support you are all suitable methods
  • Recognising and managing your urges is essential in admitting when you are more likely to gamble. In addition, these urges are vital when you first try to attempt recovery, so try to determine how to acknowledge and manage these craving effectively

Head over to the Royal College of Psychiatrists for other helpful self-help tips to quit gambling. [3]

Gambling Treatment

Every gambler is unique. Therefore, it’s vital to seek the advice of a doctor or health care professional to find the right program suited to your personality, needs and lifestyle.

There is evidence that using similar methods for treating substance abuse can be very valuable in tackling gambling addiction.

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy is known to have optimum results. [4] This form of therapy focuses on challenging the irrational thought processes and beliefs that can lead to and the maintenance of compulsive behaviours.

CBT is a semi-structured, problem-oriented approach that can help overcome addiction.

This style of therapy allows patients to learn and practice the skills and strategies needed to change those thought patterns and interfere with these compulsive behaviours. [5]

However, there are other valuable methods and support groups available to beat gambling addiction.

Find problem gambling help through:

  • The National Centre for Behavioural Addictions will allow you access to the National Problem Gambling Clinic (including the Young Persons’ Problem Gambling Clinic) and the National Centre for Gaming Disorders
  • GamCare provides lots of free information, support, and counselling for problem gamblers in the UK. It also manages the National Gambling Helpline (0808 8020 133) and provides face-to-face counselling
  • A similar 12-step programme to recovery to the Alcoholics Anonymous approach can be found at Gamblers Anonymous UK. It provides local support groups for gamblers and their friends and family.
  • Those living in England or Wales and aged 16 over, with complex problems related to gambling, can refer themselves to the National Problem Gambling Clinic. Please check you meet their criteria first.

Why Rehab?

In addition, many people find looking for professional rehabilitative support helpful when they cannot stop independently. For example, gambling addiction rehab can be highly beneficial for those who have attempted to quit and feel disheartened at their lack of success.

The professional support you’ll find at a rehabilitation centre can help problem gamblers to tackle their compulsion on a residential basis or through the day and outpatient programmes.

You’ll also have availability of group and one-to-one therapy sessions, seminars, workshops, and individual working time at your fingertips, something which others have found very positive in achieving recovery.

Helping Someone with a Gambling Problem

Needing help to overcome a gambling addiction is nothing to be embarrassed or ashamed of, and it certainly doesn’t signify weakness.

Instead, try to be patient and understanding with the gambler; they suffer from a behaviour addiction that they can’t control. It’s important to relay this reassuring message and encourage the individual to receive professional treatment to aid in their achieving recovery.

If you’re affected by someone’s gambling or worried about them, try to be honest with them.

Let them know how their behaviour is affecting you and encourage your loved one to get addiction help.

The sooner they receive treatment for their gambling habit, the sooner they can progress towards recovery and eliminate any potential future issues.

It’s normal to feel daunted or unsure where to find treatment, as facilities offering inpatient and outpatient care might not be so readily accessible in your area or based on your circumstances. Why not visit GamCare?

It is a valuable resource for family, partners and friends of compulsive gamblers who need further knowledge and support. In addition, many gambling addiction experts or facilities can recommend proper treatment and support.

As a friend or family member, you can also receive counselling or join a support group to help you cope with the stress and angst of dealing with the situation.

GamAnon is a helpful local support group that anyone affected by someone’s gambling problem should visit. You can find your nearest group here.

Recovery Stories

Persons suffering from addiction often find it beneficial to read successful recovery stories of those in recovery. There are many inspirational and motivating stories on the GamCare Recovery Stories Forum.

To avoid being disheartened or giving up, it’s essential to recognise that many people have been able to stop gambling, and this is something you can do too. So, although quitting may be daunting or impossible right now, trust that with the proper treatment, dedication, support and a little time, recovery is something you can achieve too.