How to Beat a Gambling Addiction
Gambling addiction can have devastating effects on your financial situation, mental health and relationships. With all your money and energy focused on gambling, you can be left with an empty bank account and no one to support you.
But, if you follow the advice in this blog, accumulated from my experience counselling people who suffer from an addiction, you can set yourself on the road to recovery. Admitting that you have a problem is always the biggest and first step, but there is much more than you can do after this to ensure that you never relapse back to your bad habit.
Admit you Have a Problem
Like any other addiction, the first step on the road to recovery is admitting that you have a problem. Understanding your problem makes it much easier to tackle it. Those who refuse to acknowledge their gambling habit has gone out of control will find it much harder to accept help or strive to make a change in themselves. The realisation can bring you back to a sense of normality as you begin to let go of your addiction, now understanding the negative effects it has had on your life. This will make you better prepared and ready to put in the hard work to move away from your gambling addiction.
You may find emotional confusion during this time as one part of you wants to abandon your gambling addiction while the other is still trying to convince you that nothing is wrong. Giving in to your craving to gamble can halt your recovery before it has even begun. So, you need to remain strong at the start and remind yourself why you are deciding to move away from gambling.
Block Your Access to Gambling
Once you’ve accepted responsibility for your addiction and understand your desire to move on, the next step is to block your access to all forms of gambling. You might feel you should only block yourself from the certain types of gambling that you are addicted to such as casinos, but you may find yourself drifting to other types during this journey.
This step will help you to realise that gambling isn’t the fun release you thought it was but rather an expensive and detrimental addiction that has hindered your life. Many people use gambling as an escape from stress or problems at work or at home, but when you realise that you are addicted, you need to understand that this is not a solution. The losses from gambling kickstart a cycle that you may have struggled to see yourself escaping.
Plan Ahead to Avoid Boredom
Ex-gamblers often struggle with periods of boredom when they move away from their addiction. They are used to feeling the highs and lows of gambling, having something to focus on for hours at a time. Try and plan your weeks so that each day is filled with activities that can distract you from thoughts of gambling. Research backs this tactic as findings show that ‘problem gamblers have a low threshold for boredom’. Also, when faced with an ‘uninspiring’ task they will avoid or not complete it, meaning you need to find something that will engage you and entertain you to fill your hours.
Rekindle an Old Hobby or Find New Ones
Linking back to the previous point, the best way to keep your mind off gambling is to focus your energy on hobbies. Gamblers often lose interest in previous hobbies as they become more and more addicted and consumed by their desire to gamble. But, once you have stopped and are working to improve yourself, you might find it beneficial to reignite these old hobbies or find something new to dedicate your time to.
Not only will this boost your self-esteem but it will also help you to find a new structure and rhythm to your life, having something to look forward to daily or weekly. Finding a healthy activity to replace your addiction is an important step in your journey to recovery as it will keep you focused on the benefits on your new way of life rather than on the gambling you left behind.
Never Forget that to Gamble is to Lose
If you find moments during your detachment from gambling where you are craving your old addiction, it is best to remind yourself of everything you have lost. You might have lost lots of money to addiction, but many people also lose their self-esteem, happiness and maybe even family, friends or relationships. Acknowledging all of the losses you have faced can make it easier to stand up to the addiction and resist temptation.
Accepting that once you start you won’t be able to stop can help instil a sense of understanding and deter you from future gambling. Looking back over all of your losses should help to prevent you from wanting to further the damage.
Seek Therapy for Further Help
Unlike other addictions like drugs and alcohol, there are no immediate physical signs that you may be suffering. This can make it hard for friends and family to support you as they don’t see something ‘wrong’ with you. Also, coming out with the truth to them may scare you as you fear judgement. In situations like these, contacting a counsellor is the best move.
Counsellors who have worked with addiction sufferers before will understand how to help you through your journey to recovery from the very start. They can provide advice that has proven to work with previous clients and help you to overcome the stress, depression and any other mental issues that have arisen as a result of your addiction. With experience and knowledge, they will also know what tactics to use to keep yourself busy and your mind off gambling. They will also be able to help you to identify the deeper reasons behind your gambling and work to resolve them. And, as an outsider and a professional, you don’t have to feel afraid of being judged so you can share your experiences and feelings openly and honestly, in a safe place.
Addiction can be very hard to get over and moving into a happier healthier mindset can be a gruelling task, but if you focus hard enough and follow the advice in this blog, it should be much easier. But, if you are struggling alone, then therapy may be the best option for you. Having someone who understands what you are going through and can provide informed suggestions and support can make a huge difference. If you think therapy could help you to overcome your gambling addiction, then contact me today for more information.