How to Overcome a Gambling Problem
Whether it’s buying lottery tickets, betting on horse races or using the pokies (Australian slot machines), most people gamble at some point. But gambling can be addictive, and for some people, it leads to problems. Pathological gambling (PG) is characterized by persistent and recurrent maladaptive patterns of gambling behavior that cause significant distress or impairment. About 0.1-4.6% of Americans meet the diagnostic criteria for PG, and most develop it in adolescence or young adulthood. Men tend to have more problems with strategic, face-to-face forms of gambling, such as poker or blackjack. Women, on the other hand, have more trouble with nonstrategic, less interpersonally interactive forms of gambling, such as slots or bingo.
The first step in overcoming a problem with gambling is to recognize that you have one. If you think that your gambling activity is causing a problem, talk to a therapist or counselor. Counseling can help you think about your gambling patterns and how they affect you, as well as provide strategies for changing them. It’s also a good idea to get help for underlying mood disorders, like depression or anxiety, which can trigger or worsen gambling problems.
Another way to get help is to join a support group for people with a gambling disorder. These groups can be an excellent source of information about the disorder, as well as a place to get support from others who have the same problem. Many of these groups are modeled after Alcoholics Anonymous and include a sponsor, someone who has been through the recovery process. You can find a support group by searching online or asking your doctor or therapist for recommendations.
If you’re trying to help a family member with a gambling problem, try to make sure they have enough other things to do with their time. Encourage them to participate in activities they enjoy, like a sports team or book club, and find other ways to socialize, such as volunteering for a worthy cause. It’s also important to set boundaries when it comes to managing money. For example, you may want to stop your loved one from spending their own money on gambling or give them a separate bank account for that purpose.
While it’s difficult to get rid of a gambling habit, it’s possible. Some people have been able to break the cycle by finding other ways to spend their free time and getting help for underlying issues. Other people have found success through inpatient or residential treatment programs, which are designed for those who need round-the-clock care. But, whatever your approach, don’t give up. It takes a lot of determination and strength to overcome a gambling addiction. You might even make a few mistakes along the way, but keep pushing forward and never give up on your recovery journey. In time, you’ll be rewarded with the life you deserve. Good luck!