Recently updated on November 10th, 2023
Gambling addiction is a serious problem that can have devastating consequences for the individual, their loved ones, and their community. According to the National Council on Problem Gambling, an estimated 2 million adults in the United States suffer from gambling addiction, and another 6 million are at risk.
It is a complex condition with a variety of contributing factors, including genetics, gambling disorder, brain chemistry, and life experiences. People with compulsive gambling addiction may experience intense cravings to gamble, even when they know it will have negative consequences. They may also lie to themselves and others about their gambling, and they may go to great lengths to get money to gamble, such as stealing or borrowing money.
If you or someone you know is struggling with gambling addiction or who can develop a gambling problem, there is help available. There are a few effective treatment programs available, both in-person and online. There are also support groups and self-help programs that can provide guidance and support.
How to spot the signs of gambling addiction
The following are some of the signs and symptoms of gambling addiction:
- Gambling more often or for longer periods of time than intended.
- Gambling despite negative consequences, such as financial problems, relationship problems, or work problems
- Feeling restless or irritable when not able to gamble
- Lying to yourself or others about how much you gamble
- Chasing losses (trying to win back money you have lost)
- Borrowing money or selling possessions to gamble
- Gambling until you run out of money
What to do if you have a gambling addiction
If you think you may have a gambling addiction, the first step is to admit that you have a problem. This can be difficult, but it is essential to begin the recovery process. Once you have admitted that you have a problem, you can start to develop a plan to stop gambling.
Here are some tips for stopping gambling:
- Tell someone you trust. Talking to a friend, family member, therapist, or other trusted person can help you to feel supported and accountable.
- Avoid gambling triggers. This may mean staying away from casinos, gambling websites, and other places where you are likely to gamble. It may also mean avoiding people who gamble or who trigger your gambling urges.
- Develop healthy coping mechanisms. Find other ways to deal with stress, anxiety, and boredom. Exercise, spending time with loved ones, and pursuing hobbies can all be helpful.
- Seek professional help. If you are having trouble quitting gambling alone, seek help from a therapist or counselor who specializes in gambling addiction treatment.
Treatment options to stop gambling addiction
There are several effective treatment options available for gambling addiction. Treatment may include individual therapy, group therapy, medication, or a combination of these approaches.
Individual therapy can help you to understand the underlying causes of your gambling addiction and develop coping mechanisms to manage your urges to gamble. Group therapy can provide you with support from others who are also struggling with gambling addiction. Medication may be helpful in managing some of the symptoms of gambling addiction, such as anxiety and depression.
In addition to traditional treatment programs, there are also several self-help programs and support groups available for people with gambling addiction. Gamblers Anonymous is a 12-step program that offers support and guidance to people who are trying to stop gambling. There are also a few online support groups and forums where people with gambling addiction can connect with others and share their experiences.
Resources for help with gambling addiction in the USA
- National Council on Problem Gambling: 1-800-522-4700
- Gamblers Anonymous: 1-800-523-1469
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255
- Crisis Text Line: Text HOME to 741741
Gambling addiction is a serious problem, but it is treatable. There are a few effective treatment options available, and there is help available for everyone who wants to stop gambling. If you or someone you know is struggling with gambling addiction, please reach out to a mental health professional for help today.
Additional tips for stopping gambling addiction
- Make a commitment to stop gambling. Set a date to stop gambling and stick to it.
- Tell your friends and family that you are stopping gambling. Ask for their support and understanding.
- Remove all gambling materials from your home and workplace. This includes credit cards, cash, and gambling apps.
- Develop a relapse prevention plan. Identify your triggers and develop strategies for coping with them.
- Seek professional help if needed. A therapist can help you to understand your addiction and develop coping mechanisms.
- Recovery from gambling addiction is possible. With the right support, you can learn to control your gambling urges and live a healthy and productive life.