How to Overcome a Gambling Addiction
Gambling involves placing something of value at risk in exchange for a possible prize. While many people who gamble do so responsibly, some develop an addiction. This disorder, categorized as gambling addiction in the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), causes distress or impairment in one’s daily functioning. It can affect relationships, work performance and study. In addition, it can lead to financial ruin and even homelessness.
The most significant step to overcoming gambling problems is admitting that you have a problem. This can be difficult, especially if you have lost a lot of money or damaged your relationships as a result of your gambling addiction. But remember that you are not alone in your struggle; many others have successfully overcome this challenge and rebuilt their lives.
To help you break your gambling habit, start by identifying the triggers that prompt you to gamble. For example, if you tend to gamble when you are around friends who also do so or after drinking alcohol, try to avoid these situations. You may also want to consider keeping a gambling journal, which can help you track your spending and winnings as well as identify the type of gambling you are most likely to engage in.
Another helpful strategy is to only gamble with disposable income, not money that needs to be saved or used to pay bills. Also, try to set a specific amount that you will allow yourself to gamble with each time and stick to it. It is also helpful to avoid the temptation of gambling by not going near casinos or other gambling establishments. Instead, find other ways to entertain yourself, such as watching sports on TV, taking a walk or reading a book.
Lastly, it is important to learn healthier ways of relieving unpleasant feelings or avoiding boredom. Some of these might include exercising, spending time with non-gambling friends, taking up a new hobby or practicing relaxation techniques. It is also important to seek treatment for any underlying mood disorders that might contribute to your gambling addiction, such as depression, anxiety or stress.
It is also helpful to get support from other people who have suffered from gambling addiction, either online or in a peer support group such as Gamblers Anonymous. This can provide encouragement and advice on overcoming the addiction, as well as provide a safe space to discuss your struggles. If you are a family member of someone struggling with gambling addiction, consider joining a support group for families of loved ones with substance use and other addictions. You can also reach out to professionals who offer support, assistance and counselling for individuals with gambling disorders, such as therapists, psychologists or social workers. These specialists can provide you with tools to deal with your own gambling addiction as well as guidance on how to best support your loved one.