Gambling is a type of risk-taking in which participants place something of value on an event with an element of chance and hope to win. This can be done in many different ways, such as by betting with friends or playing games of chance such as blackjack, roulette, slots, and bingo. While many people can enjoy gambling casually, without becoming addicted, others may find that it begins to interfere with their daily lives and causes them a lot of distress. This is known as compulsive gambling and it can have a negative impact on personal, professional and financial life.
The good news is that there are steps people can take to help overcome a gambling addiction. These include:
Identify the triggers that lead to the urge to gamble. This can be difficult to do as the reasons for gambling are often rooted in subconscious or emotional responses. Keeping a journal of thoughts and feelings can be a helpful way to start understanding what situations, or even certain emotions, trigger these impulses to gamble. This can then be used to create a plan to avoid these triggers in the future.
Consider joining a support group. This can be helpful for both those with a gambling problem and their family members. These groups are often run by people who have had similar experiences and can offer a wealth of knowledge and guidance. Gamblers Anonymous is one example of a support group and follows the same 12-step model that other addiction recovery programs use, such as Alcoholics Anonymous.
Stay away from casinos and other gambling establishments. This can be difficult if you have socializing with friends who also gamble, but this will help you resist temptation. It can also be beneficial to stay away from family members who gamble if they are not supportive of your efforts to stop.
Spend more time doing things that make you happy. Research shows that focusing on positive activities increases happiness and reduces stress, and can be a great way to break the cycle of gambling. Some ideas include spending more time with friends and family, taking up a new hobby, or volunteering at a local animal shelter or hospital.
Become more aware of the consequences of your gambling behavior. This will allow you to better understand when you are starting to fall into the trap of chasing losses and can be useful in setting realistic spending limits.
Changing your habits can be challenging, but it is possible to overcome gambling addiction with the right help and support. If you’re struggling with gambling problems please get in touch with a Counselling Directory counsellor, our service is free, confidential and available 24/7. You can speak to a counsellor online, over the phone or face-to-face in one of our centres across the UK. If you’d like to book a session with a counsellor, simply fill in the form at the top of this page. We will call you back at a convenient time to discuss your concerns.