How to Overcome a Gambling Addiction

Gambling is an activity where you risk something of value in the hope of winning more than you have invested. Typically, this is money or a physical item. It can be done in casinos, on online gambling websites, through lotteries and in private settings. It can be legal or illegal in your jurisdiction. Gambling can cause severe psychological, financial and social problems. It can also lead to other addictions, such as drug use or alcohol abuse. If you have a gambling problem, it’s important to seek treatment to manage your symptoms and prevent future damage.

Pathological gambling (PG) is an impulse control disorder and can have serious repercussions. Symptoms of PG include: a desire to gamble, despite negative consequences; lying to family members or therapists about the extent of gambling involvement; stealing money to fund a gambling habit; committing illegal acts, such as forgery, theft, embezzlement or fraud in order to finance gambling; and jeopardizing a job, education or relationship as a result of gambling. People who develop PG usually start gambling in their adolescence or young adulthood, and it often starts with strategic or face-to-face forms of gambling.

When someone is addicted to gambling, they can’t stop thinking about it. They have difficulty concentrating on other tasks, such as work or school. They are prone to making reckless decisions and are at higher risk for other mental health conditions, such as depression or anxiety. Fortunately, there are many treatment options available to help you overcome your gambling addiction and regain control of your life.

One way to overcome a gambling addiction is to surround yourself with positive people and activities. Try to find new hobbies and ways to relieve stress in your life that don’t involve gambling. It’s also helpful to practice mindfulness exercises, such as deep breathing and meditation. These techniques can calm the mind and distract you from unhealthy thoughts that may encourage you to gamble.

Another way to overcome a gambling addiction is to remove yourself from high-risk situations. This includes staying away from casinos and online gambling sites, avoiding gambling venues, and limiting how much cash you carry. You should also avoid socializing in gambling establishments and avoid using credit cards or taking out loans to fund your gambling.

Lastly, it’s important to talk about your gambling struggles with people who will support you. You can get help from a therapist or find a peer group like Gamblers Anonymous, which follows a 12-step model similar to Alcoholics Anonymous. Having an accountability partner – someone with whom you can share your progress and set goals – can be very beneficial when dealing with a gambling addiction.

The U.S Food and Drug Administration does not currently approve any medications to treat gambling disorder. However, psychotherapy — a term that encompasses several different types of treatments — can be effective. In psychotherapy, you work with a licensed mental health professional to identify and change unhealthy emotions, thoughts and behaviors that contribute to your gambling behavior.