How to Overcome a Gambling Addiction


Gambling involves placing money or something of value on an event where the outcome is unknown. This can be anything from the roll of a dice, to the outcome of a horse race, to the flip of a coin. People gamble for various reasons, including social connections and escape from boredom or stress. However, for some individuals gambling can become a problem that leads to a range of problems and harms. While some people have a genetic predisposition towards developing an addiction, many factors contribute to the development of gambling addictions. These include an early big win, a false sense of control, boredom susceptibility, impulsivity, a poor understanding of random events, use of escape coping and stressful life experiences.

The good news is that gambling addiction can be treated just like any other addiction. Often, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) is used to address the beliefs that a person has about betting. These might be that they are more likely to win than they actually are, that certain rituals can bring them luck or that chasing losses will help them recoup their losses. CBT will help you examine these beliefs and develop healthier alternative coping mechanisms.

Many people begin to develop a gambling addiction because it is fun, exciting and rewarding. A person may also start to gamble for financial gain, a rush of dopamine, to make social connections or as an escape from the stresses of life. However, a person will find that the enjoyment of gambling gradually decreases and the negative impacts increase. This is usually when it becomes a serious problem.

The first step to overcoming a gambling addiction is admitting that there is a problem. This can be difficult, particularly if it has caused financial distress and strained or broken relationships. Despite this, it is important to realise that you can break the cycle and rebuild your life. There are many resources available to help you, including support groups, self-help tips and treatment options.

Taking steps to avoid gambling is the best way to prevent a problem from developing. This might mean removing credit cards from your wallet, asking someone else to be in charge of your finances, closing online betting accounts and keeping only a small amount of cash on you. It is also a good idea to balance gambling with other enjoyable activities, such as sports, socialising and family time. Lastly, it is crucial not to gamble when you are depressed, upset or stressed. These emotions can influence your decision making and lead to bigger losses. It is also recommended not to gamble if you are on medication or have suicidal thoughts. If you think you have a problem, seek professional help as soon as possible. This could be in the form of psychotherapy or group therapy such as Gamblers Anonymous, a 12-step program based on Alcoholics Anonymous. Alternatively, seek out peer support by reaching out to friends and family or joining a gambling recovery community.