No matter your walk of life, it can happen to you: your gambling habit goes from a harmless fun to an unhealthy obsession with the potential to cause serious consequences. Whether you’re betting on scratch cards or sports, or playing classic casino games, such as poker, roulette or slots, addiction to gambling can affect you in many ways. It can interfere with your employment, strain your relationships, and cause a financial disaster. Sure, you may feel unable to quit gambling, but there are plenty of steps you can take to repair your finances, relationships, and health to ensure you regain control of your life. If you experience gambling addiction, here are five ways to reverse your situation:
1. Admit You Have a Problem
For many addicts (not just gambling addicts), this is one of the hardest milestones to achieve. Many gambling addicts live in denial, but when it gets to a point where the habit stands out clearly as a problem, denial begins to fade. It is little wonder most addicts get help when it is too late- do not be one of them. Admitting that you’re an addict as early as possible could mean that your problem is half solved. Why? The answer is simple: because you will begin seeking a remedy when the problem is still in its early cycle. Admitting that you have a problem and you need help does not in any way make you a lesser human being. If anything, it is a show that you’re courageous enough to face the problem. And yes, no gambling addiction is too big for you to overcome.
2. Seek Help From a Professional
Cognitive behavioral therapy, or CBT, is generally regarded as the standard gambling addiction treatment. In this treatment, you will work one-on-one with a therapist who will help you to change your destructive thoughts and behavior. CBT enables addicts to adopt skills to cope with the problem and resist the urge for gambling. It teaches you the best ways of dealing with your financial and other personal issues rather than using gambling as an escape route.
3. Join a Support Group
For your individual therapy to be more effective, you may consider joining a support group. One of the support groups that stand out is Gambler’s Anonymous (GA), which is a 12-step program that employs effective techniques, such as having a sponsor. In the United States, for instance, there are at least 1,700 GA groups; you can locate each of them by city.
4. Seek Medication
Gambling addicts, like their drug counterparts, tend to feel “high,” especially when expecting to win money. To remedy this dopamine imbalance, psychiatrists usually prescribe an antidepressant (SSRIs) that alters the gambler’s serotonin system. Other drugs that can help to treat gambling addiction include nalmefene and lithium.
5. Embrace Regulatory Mechanisms
This strategy works, especially when the problem is in its very early stages, and it’s more of prevention that treatment. It involves things like putting a limit on how often you gamble and the amount of money you gamble with.