Gambling addiction is brutal and highly destructive. It can lead to dire consequences that run the gamut from bankruptcy, job loss, depression, anxiety, loss of friends and family, and even suicide. It is so important for the addict to stop gambling sooner rather than later.
This addiction does not discriminate. If the propensity is there, and the gambler crosses over that invisible line into problem gambling, addiction can occur in anyone’s life. It does not matter whether the person is rich or poor, educated or uneducated. An addiction like this can send people to jail, cause major social and occupational problems, mental instability, and financial devastation that can last for years.
Studies show that problem gamblers are more likely to commit suicide than all other types of addicts combined.
It is important to get help as soon as possible. It isn’t easy to quit gambling, but there are ways you can help yourself before you get to the point of no return. Here are ten strategies to use to stop gambling addiction and reclaim your life!
1. Take a Short Break
When you wake up, make a decision that you will not gamble, just for this one day. If you have to do this an hour at a time, that is okay. Some might have to work one minute at a time, which is fine too, as long as you promise yourself that you will not gamble, and you keep the promise. Schedule your day in a very structured way so you do not have a lot of free time and forbid yourself to enter a casino.
2. Find a Replacement Activity
Find something to replace your gambling. Exercise, go shopping, go out with friends, or do some cooking. You can also rent a movie, or listen to some music, or do some reading. Whatever it takes to keep yourself busy.Your goal is to stop gambling, and it is not easy when you get such a high from it. Finding replacements, however, can help. Try, and see how it goes.
3. Remember How Bad it Feels to Lose
Remember the feeling when you lose a lot of money at the casino, online, or through sports betting. Allow yourself to feel that despondency when you are having thoughts about gambling again. You may find that you are less likely to go out and placing a bet. I have done this before, and must admit that these feelings have stopped me from taking that ride to the casino. Not every time, but many times this tool has helped.
4. Educate Yourself About Gambling Addiction
Read as much as you can about gambling addiction. Educate yourself, especially about your particular type of gambling. Find out what type of gambler you are and whether you have a gambling problem and have crossed over this invisible line. Are you an escape or action gambler? Find out what some of your triggers are, as this can help a lot. When you read about gambling addiction, especially the power that it can have on your psyche, you may think twice about going out and placing a bet.
5. Find Self-Help Materials
Seek help. Look for books or courses. Self-hypnosis for gambling problems can also be helpful. Consider joining an online gambling addiction forum. Even if you do not join, reading other people’s stories may help you realize that you are not alone. It is crucial that you realize that you are not the only person with this problem. Many share your plight and are looking for answers and support from other gamblers.
6. Find a Support Group
Attend a Gamblers Anonymous meeting for group support. If you do not want to do a 12-Step program, there is an online program called Smart Recovery. Having support from other gamblers who also want to quit is an important piece of your recovery.
7. Hand Over Control of Your Money
Ask a close family member to handle your money. If you do not have money on your person, you will be less apt to impulsively gamble money away. It will be hard, but it is an important step in your recovery. Also, do not allow yourself access to ATM or credit cards. Just keep a small amount of cash with you, so you are not tempted to spend the money gambling.
8. List the Cons of Gambling and the Pros of Quitting
Make a list about how your gambling problem has affected your life in a negative way. Write as much as you can. Make the list on the left side of a sheet of paper so you have room on the right side. On the right side right about how your life will change for the better when you stop gambling.
9. Make a Financial Plan
Talk to a debt counselor about your gambling debts. Ask for advice about how to relieve financial pressure and solve financial problems caused by your gambling. The financial stress that you have from gambling addiction debts can drive you back to gambling if not addressed. Financial problems are the biggest consequence of gambling, and help is available. Be sure to use a non-profit debt assistance agency, and not one that is for-profit.
10. Get a Good Counselor
See a counselor that specializes in addictions, especially gambling, and talk to this person about your problem. If your addiction is severe, you will need as much support as you can get to stop gambling now.
Some Final Thoughts
Gambling is one of the most dangerous addictions, because of the related risk of suicide. Find help now and make a plan to begin quitting. Take it one day, or hour, at a time and keep in mind how great you will feel when you have come clean and stopped gambling with your life.