Tips for Dealing with Problem Gambling/Gambling Addiction
Published on February 11, 2018
In this guide to overcoming gambling addiction, I’m going to share several easy-to-implement, 100% free, and highly effective ways to deal with problem gambling.
If you feel a casual habit has become a problem, you’re probably right.
Use one (or all) of these tips to overcome problem gambling, and you will be back on the right path in no time.
You may not believe it or be able to see it yet, but your gambling habit follows a pattern.
It may be a daily or weekly pattern, or it may be a pattern triggered by events in your life such as traumatic or stressful situations, but there is a pattern behind your problem gambling.
A great way to become aware of the pattern is to keep a gambling diary. This doesn’t have to be anything fancy – a simple notebook will do. Heck, the back of a cereal box will serve the purpose as long as you don’t lose it.
The important thing about keeping a gambling diary is that you record each time you play at the casino or place bets on sports.
Do this for several weeks or even months and get specific while you’re at it. Record dates, days, times, and a little information about how your day went.
Start setting aside regular time (say a Sunday evening) to look over your gambling diary. You will soon begin to notice the hidden patterns.
It could be that every Monday evening you play slots to try and distract yourself from the demoralizing workweek you know lies ahead, or it could be that every time you have a fight with your spouse you play poker for more than you can afford.
Whatever your pattern is, the first and most crucial point is becoming aware of it. It’s only then that you can intervene and do something about it.
This is something that men, in particular, shy away from, but the truth is that you’re going to struggle to beat this thing on your own.
Reaching out to trusted friends or family members, or even a gambling addiction support group, greatly increases your chances of overcoming any addiction.
There are Gamblers Anonymous groups all over the world full of people ready to help. Many of them have walked this path before you.
The people in these groups can help you from a practical standpoint as well as an emotional/mindset one. Just having one example of someone who has already beat their demons can increase your chances of success tenfold.
If you don’t fancy attending a support group, just talk to your spouse, a friend, or someone else you trust. Make sure they are someone who can keep a secret and who will hold you accountable.
In most countries where gambling is regulated, which is most of the western world at least, casinos and betting sites have to have safeguards in place for problem gamblers.
I personally know several people who have used ‘self-exclusion’ at online casinos, and it has helped them greatly. These are agreed respites between you and the casino.
Once you ask for help, the casino will then block you from accessing its gambling services for an agreed period of time. This may seem extreme, but it works! Don’t be too ashamed or afraid to reach out and use the tools that are available.
Some sites don’t offer self-exclusion, and of course a determined gambler can always find ways to bet. If you find yourself in this situation, there is software to help. Use site blockers, which can block entire categories of website (e.g., ‘betting’ websites).
Once you utilize a site blocker, give someone you trust the password and instruct them not to unlock it no matter what you do. This is yet another reason to draft in someone to help you.
The truth is that behind every addiction, whether drugs, alcohol, or gambling, there is something you are trying to avoid or distract yourself from.
These problems can range from unaddressed anger or grief to something you aren’t even aware of, such as a compulsive personality developed from an unpredictable childhood.
I don’t want to get all Doctor Phil on you here. There are professionals who can help you figure this out. Many of them offer their services for free at the Gamblers Anonymous groups mentioned a little earlier.
It’s really worth it to get to the bottom of why you have lost control. It may seem strange at first, but it takes a lot of courage, and it’s the only way to put problem gambling to bed for good.
Once you get to the driving force(s) behind your problem gambling, it’s time to replace the habit.
Believe it or not, an addictive personality can be a great asset. It’s all about how you channel it. Most competitive athletes, for example, have addictive personalities.
What you are craving when you gamble is not the games themselves, it’s the chemicals they release in your brain. All you have to do is find another, healthier way of getting the same ‘hit.’
Whatever you decide upon will depend on your own personality type. It doesn’t even have to be exercise. The point is to find a replacement for your gambling. It could be as simple as taking a long walk with your partner and talking about your day.
This can be literally anything that provides an outlet for your addictive tendencies, or a temporary, engaging distraction when you feel the urge to gamble again.
Channel that energy into something positive and you may soon find yourself being grateful for your ‘gung-ho, all-in’ tendencies.
Where you find yourself today doesn’t have to be your final destination. You can beat this thing, and the many people who have done so before you are living proof of that.
This isn’t a Tony Robbins seminar, and so we’ll save you the happy clappy YOU CAN DO IT stuff. A tough road lies ahead, no doubt, but by using the tools at your disposal and by harnessing your willpower, you can overcome problem gambling sooner than you think.
I wish you the very best of luck in your new journey in life. Drop me a line in the comments and let me know how it goes for you.