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7 Helpful Gambling Addiction Treatments to Try

June 4, 2021 1 0
7 Helpful Gambling Addiction Treatments to Try

While most individuals who bet or play cards never develop a gambling addiction, some risk factors can trigger compulsive gambling. This gambling disorder refers to the uncontrollable urge to keep gambling regardless of the toll it takes on your life. In that case, seeking gambling addiction treatments is advisable. 

What Causes a Gambling Addiction?

Gambling addiction has no single cause, and several factors can contribute to it. That includes hunger for thrills and highs, desperation for money, the entertaining casino atmosphere, and social status as a successful gambler. There are also biological, psychological, socio-cultural, and even spiritual causes. 

It’s hard to break the cycle once gambling addiction takes hold. And those who feel desperate financially and wish to recover losses can even experience addiction in its severity. Unfortunately, even if you win eventually, it’s rarely enough to make up for what you’ve lost. More often than not, gamblers don’t even come close to breaking even. 

Is Gambling Addiction a Mental Illness?

Gambling addiction is a mental health issue. It’s one of the many kinds of impulse-control problems, possessing some similarities to obsessive-compulsive disorder. However, experts now liken it to other addictive disorders. 

Much like drugs and alcohol, gambling can stimulate your brain’s reward system, resulting in addiction. If you’re dealing with compulsive gambling, chances are you’re continually chasing losing bets, accumulating debt, depleting savings, concealing your behavior, or even resorting to fraud or theft to sustain your addiction. Compulsive gamblers likely engage in activities like:

  • Poker 
  • Lottery
  • Roulette 
  • Sports betting 
  • Slot machines 

Similarly, their venue of choice also varies. While many gamblers prefer playing at a casino, the rate of online gambling addiction continues to rise with higher internet use. Alternatively, other compulsive gamblers also participate in risky stock market investments.

Meanwhile, problem gambling refers to gambling that shows at least two symptoms but less than five. For reference, having five qualifies for the diagnosis of compulsive/pathological gambling. There’s also what experts call “binge gambling.” It’s a subtype of compulsive gambling, involving problem gambling but only within discrete periods. 

But that’s not akin to a general gambling addiction, which often involves regular excessive gambling behavior. It’s also accompanied by persistent thoughts about gambling, even when you’re doing other activities. Remember, this is a hazardous condition that can destroy your life, so it’s best to start seeking gambling addiction treatments. 

Signs You Might Need Gambling Addiction Treatments

Unlike most casino players who follow a win or stop-loss limit, problem gamblers can’t resist the urge to keep playing to win back their money. Even worse, this pattern becomes increasingly destructive over time. That’s why it’s crucial to get gambling addiction treatments as soon as possible. 

Some problem gamblers may have remission where they can minimize or abstain from gambling for a while. However, it’s worth noting that addiction may reoccur without proper treatment. Here are some indications that you need gambling addiction treatments:

  • Gambling to escape problems 
  • Lying about the extent of your gambling
  • Attempting to win back lost money by gambling more
  • Increasing bet amounts to get the same level of excitement
  • Failing to control, cut back, or stop your gambling activities
  • Constantly thinking about how to get more gambling money
  • Restlessness or irritability when trying to minimize gambling
  • Resorting to fraud or theft to finance your gambling activities
  • Endangering or losing your job, significant relationships, or other work opportunities
  • Seeking help from others to get you out of financial trouble due to gambling your money away

What Are the Best Gambling Addiction Treatments?

As mentioned earlier, gambling addiction may result from risk factors. That includes age, gender, mental health disorders, family/friend influence, particular personality characteristics, and so on. If you or a loved one needs gambling addiction treatments, consider the following tips:

Understand the Problem

First things first, you need to understand the problem. You can’t address something without knowing what it is. Therefore, the first big step to eliminating gambling from your life is by admitting. You must acknowledge that you’re dealing with a gambling problem and learn about it. 

When checking for symptoms of gambling problems, be honest with yourself. Even better, seek the opinion of a loved one. Be open about your struggles to give them a clearer understanding. Quit denying and start recognizing the negative impact of gambling in your life. 

Be Part of a Support Group

Now that you understand the problem, the next in this list of gambling addiction treatments is to join a support group. Seeking assistance from and surrounding yourself with people who understand your condition is vital. 

Individuals with similar experiences and pasts manage support groups for gambling addictions. While such organizations lack professional interventions, you can test it out for free online or in person. They provide voice and text support for individuals dealing with gambling problems. They can also refer you to helpful group options to better handle the challenges of gambling addiction.

Avoid Temptation

One of the most arduous yet most effective gambling addiction treatments is avoiding temptation. It’s very tempting to gamble. However, seeing it as an addiction helps you use skills for relapse prevention and addiction recovery. Avoid triggers like people, locations, and activities that remind you of gambling. That way, you can eliminate feelings and thoughts that promote gambling. 

So, if watching sports tempts you to place a bet, change the channel. If driving by a casino ignites your gambling desires, take a different route. Cut out your credit cards and let a trusted family handle your checkbook. All that may seem like an inconvenience. But as gambling addiction treatments go, avoiding triggers is essential.

Put Off Gambling 

Also included in this list of gambling addiction treatments is postponing gambling. Cravings are part of addictions. As a problem gambler, you could be feeling a strong urge to visit a casino, cash your paycheck, contact your bookie, or other gambling-related behaviors. 

Intense cravings feel like they could last forever. But remember this: they will not. Pay attention to your longings. How long does it last? What are your thoughts during the craving? How do they feel? By building an understanding of the situation, you start taking away its hold over you.

Divert Your Attention

Avoiding triggers and looking for alternatives are excellent gambling addiction treatments. Replacing gambling behaviors with healthier activities can drastically improve your state. You shift the focus away from the addiction and towards positive ones. Here are some fun, beneficial alternatives you can explore:

  •  Sports
  • Walking
  • Traveling 
  • Meditation
  • Doing volunteer work 
  • Exploring new hobbies
  • Spending more quality time with family and friends

Think About the Consequences

For any recovering problem gambler, guilt and shame are strong feelings. Too much of them can be dangerous and cause you to relapse. However, healthy levels of guilt and shame can be counterproductive and encourage you to stay in recovery.

Think about the emotional pain your gambling addiction caused your loved ones. The financial difficulties and any lies you told to conceal your addiction. But don’t dwell on your past. Just let them motivate you to avoid gambling in the future. 

Seek Professional Gambling Addiction Treatments

Ultimately, if you think your addiction is already out of hand, seek professional help. Do that as soon as you can. Professional treatment from an addiction or mental health specialist could spell the difference between financial crisis and stability. 

With professional gambling addiction treatments, you can learn how to avoid gambling. Therapists and counselors are everywhere. Your reluctance is the only thing that’s holding you back. Even better, get professional help while you’re in a support group. 

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