Get confidential help and support
The first step is to separate the myths from the facts about gambling problems:. Problematic gambling can lead to more destructive actions such as criminal behavior i. Miss work because of your gambling? For help, support and advice about problem gambling please contact the National Gambling Helpline on or via the NetLine. Seek help for underlying mood disorders. It's free, from both landlines and mobiles It's completely confidential It's available to people worried about their own gambling and anyone who is affected by someone else's gambling It's open 8am - Midnight, 7 days a week The National Gambling Helpline is operated by GamCare and offers free and confidential support, information and advice on problem gambling either via telephone Helpline or online NetLine.
What is gambling addiction and problem gambling?
Problems caused by excessive gambling are not just financial. Too much time spent on gambling can also lead to relationship and legal problems, job loss, mental health problems including depression and anxiety, and even suicide. Having a gambling problem is just a case of being weak-willed, irresponsible, or unintelligent. Gambling problems affect people of all levels of intelligence and all backgrounds.
Previously responsible and strong-willed people are just as likely to develop a gambling problem as anyone else. Partners of problem gamblers often drive their loved ones to gamble. Problem gamblers often try to rationalize their behavior. Blaming others is one way to avoid taking responsibility for their actions, including what is needed to overcome the problem. If a problem gambler builds up a debt, you should help them take care of it.
Quick fix solutions may appear to be the right thing to do. However, bailing the gambler out of debt may actually make matters worse by enabling their gambling problems to continue. Gambling addiction is sometimes referred to as a "hidden illness" because there are no obvious physical signs or symptoms like there are in drug or alcohol addiction. Problem gamblers also typically deny or minimize the problem—even to themselves. However, you may have a gambling problem if you:.
Feel the need to be secretive about your gambling. Have trouble controlling your gambling. Once you start gambling, can you walk away? You may feel pushed to borrow, sell, or even steal things for gambling money. Have family and friends worried about you. Denial keeps problem gambling going. If friends and family are worried, listen to them carefully. Many older gamblers are reluctant to reach out to their adult children if they've gambled away their inheritance, but it's never too late to make changes for the better.
The biggest step to overcoming a gambling addiction is realizing that you have a problem. It takes tremendous strength and courage to own up to this, especially if you have lost a lot of money and strained or broken relationships along the way.
Many others have been in your shoes and have been able to break the habit and rebuild their lives. Learn to relieve unpleasant feelings in healthier ways. Or after a stressful day at work or following an argument with your spouse?
Gambling may be a way to self-soothe unpleasant emotions, unwind, or socialize. Strengthen your support network. If your support network is limited, there are ways to make new friends without relying on visiting casinos or gambling online.
Try reaching out to colleagues at work, joining a sports team or book club, enrolling in an education class, or volunteering for a good cause.
Join a peer support group. Gamblers Anonymous, for example, is a twelve-step recovery program patterned after Alcoholics Anonymous. A key part of the program is finding a sponsor, a former gambler who has experience remaining free from addiction and can provide you invaluable guidance and support.
Anxiety Disorders and Anxiety Attacks: Recognizing and Getting Help. Seek help for underlying mood disorders. Online casinos and bookmakers are open all day, every day for anyone with a smartphone or access to a computer. One way to stop gambling is to remove the elements necessary for gambling to occur in your life and replace them with healthier choices.
The four elements needed for gambling to continue are:. For gambling to happen, you need to make the decision to gamble. If you have an urge: Gambling cannot occur without money. Get rid of your credit cards, let someone else be in charge of your money, have the bank make automatic payments for you, close online betting accounts, and keep only a limited amount of cash on you. Schedule enjoyable recreational time for yourself that has nothing to do with gambling. Without a game or activity to bet on there is no opportunity to gamble.
Tell gambling establishments you frequent that you have a gambling problem and ask them to restrict you from entering. Remove gambling apps and block gambling sites on your smartphone and computer. Maintaining recovery from gambling addiction depends a lot on finding alternative behaviors you can substitute for gambling.
Counseling, enroll in a public speaking class, join a social group, connect with family and friends, volunteer , find new friends. As little as 15 minutes of daily exercise can relieve stress. Or deep breathing, meditation, or massage. Feeling the urge to gamble is normal, but as you build healthier choices and a strong support network, resisting cravings will become easier. When a gambling craving strikes:. Call a trusted family member, meet a friend for coffee, or go to a Gamblers Anonymous meeting.
As you wait, the urge to gamble may pass or become weak enough to resist. Visualize what will happen if you give in to the urge to gamble.
Accessing the Relaxation Response. Distract yourself with another activity , such as going to the gym, watching a movie, or practicing a relaxation exercise for gambling cravings. Overcoming a gambling addiction is a tough process. You may slip from time to time; the important thing is to learn from your mistakes and continue working towards recovery. Studies also show a correlation between alcohol, nicotine and other drugs, as well as gambling.
Problematic gambling can lead to more destructive actions such as criminal behavior i. Why do you want to stop — what will keep you focused on that goal? Coping with Urges — Dealing with urges is part of recovery. SMART has tools designed to help you cope with your urges to gamble. Managing Problems — We frequently turn to our addictive behaviors like gambling addiction to either escape from or avoid addressing problems.
Lifestyle Balance — SMART helps you develop skills to help balance both short and long-term goals, as well as pleasures and needs that were once out of balance. If you would like to get started right away, you can join our online support community where you can read, share and learn from our worldwide network of members at any time of the day or night.
Be sure to check out our Gambling Addiction support forum there. A score of indicates you are likely drinking at low-risk levels, assuming that:.
You are not taking a medication that is made dangerous or ineffective by Alcohol. You do not have a medical condition made worse by alcohol. You are not pregnant There is no known safe level of drinking during pregnancy. A score between 8 and 18 indicates you are drinking above relatively healthy levels. A score between 19 and 40 suggests dangerous drinking and possible physical dependence. Considering a major change is recommended. Gambling Addiction Gambling addiction compulsive gambling and pathological gambling is a growing problem in the United States.