How to Quit Gambling

With the accessibility of land-based casinos and online casino sites on the rise, the issue of excessive gambling is becoming increasingly prevalent. What may initially seem like harmless entertainment, such as betting on sports or playing casino games, can quickly escalate into a harmful addiction with severe consequences.


Fortunately, quitting gambling is possible, albeit challenging. Taking decisive steps toward recovery is essential. This article explores strategies to help you break free from unhealthy gambling habits.

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Fact checked by Rebecca Mackay

How to Recognize You Have a Gambling Problem

The first step toward recovery from gambling addiction is recognising and admitting problem. American Psychiatric Association recognises gambling addiction as a medical condition that most people have no control over.

If you recognize following 5 behaviours, you most likely have gambling problem:

  • You feel an obsessive urge to gamble.

  • All your spare time is used for gambling.

  • You use gambling to cope with stress.

  • You feel anxiety and you are irritated when haven't gambled for a while.

  • You take a bigger risk to recover losses and costs you incur while gambling.

The Effects of Gambling on Your Life

Playing casino games, placing a wager on sporting events and putting money on a lottery- people see as funny and relaxing activity. However, there is a thin line between having fun and developing habit with disastrous consequences. Excessive gambling has 3 negative effects in lives of excessive gamblers:

  • Financial problems: spending more than can be afforded, borrowing money and paying out loans to cover gambling debts

  • Problems in private life: spending less time with family and friends and conflicts that arise due to spending and loosing money have devastating impact on relationships in social environment.

  • Problems at workplace: preoccupation with gambling and difficulties in focusing on tasks have impact on workload and cause end of work activities.

How to Tell Your Family and Friends You Have a Gambling Problem

The hardest part in the process of awakening gambling addiction for every gambling addict is admitting it to loved ones, family, and friends. Family and friend support is the most important out of 5 steps toward full recovery:

Plan the conversation:

Planning what to say to the loved ones make you feel more focused, prepared and organized. You won't forget what you want to say and your thoughts will be clearer.

Have a recovery plan:

It is very important to be informed about and plan what institutions and organizations to contact regarding the recovery, and which recovery program suits you the best.

Consider telling one person first:

Tell to one family member first. This person will provide support when you are ready to admit problem in front of you family and friends and prevent from possible negative outcomes of this complicated and unpleasant conversation.

Answer their questions honestly:

Family and friends will have a lot of questions. Provide them with honest answers even if it makes you feel uncomfortable.

Ask for help:

Don't be shy or don't have fear to ask for help of your loved ones because they are an integral support in quitting gambling completely.

What Kind of Help is Available for Gambling Addiction?

The good news for people suffering from gambling addictions is that while it can be challenging to achieve, recovering from problem gambling is not impossible. You can beat your addiction with the right treatment.

For gambling addiction, 4 types of help are available:

  • psychotherapy

  • medications

  • support groups

  • treatment centers.

Therapy

Behavioural and cognitive therapy are proven types of psychological help with gambling addictions. These types of therapy are provided individually or in a group of people with the same problem.

Medications

Mood stabilizers, antidepressants, inhibitors and beta-blockers are used to help gambling addicts deal with the symptoms and conditions that often exist among compulsive gamblers like substance abuse problems, personality disorders, depression, anxiety, insomnia, headaches, digestive and cardiac issues.

Support Groups

People with gambling disorders confirm that talking with recovered gamblers- helps them in their journey to recovery.

Treatment Centers

Inpatient rehabilitation program

Gambling addicts often join rehabilitation programs provided in asylums so they can isolate themselves from the existing social setting where they developed and lead addictive life. Treatment centres with inpatient rehabilitation programmes provide 24/7 care, catering to patients' needs, and along with the necessary medical treatments- represent best combination for physical and mental rehabilitation and resocialization.

How to Make a Plan to Quit Gambling

Although quitting gambling is a challenging endeavour, it is not impossible to achieve the goal. The key to success is making the proper plan to quit and avoiding relapses. So, considering 4 primary elements when planning recovery is required:

The Decision:

Decision to quit gambling is a personal decision. For recovery to happen, the most important requirement is that a person wants to stop this type of behaviour otherwise every attempt is unsuccessful.

Money:

Gambling cannot happen without invested money. You need to make arrangements to deal with your finances. If possible- limit and control your spendings or authorize member of a family, friend or recovery support provider to do it for you or avoid using it while you are on recovery program.

Time:

Whether online or land-based, gambling requires investing time. To avoid thinking about gambling, plan other enjoyable activities that benefit mental health.

Gambling activity:

Without places, people and accessibility of gambling platforms, there are no opportunities for gambling. Exposure to gambling environment increases the possibility of excessive gambling recidivism.

What to Expect When You First Give Up Gambling

In pathological gambling, quitting is a very complicated and mentally and physically exhaustive process.

Addiction studies have proven that the symptoms you can expect when you quit gambling include depression, anxiety, insomnia, and restlessness. These emotional symptoms have physical manifestations including headaches, nausea, muscle tension, and palpitations. The intensity of these symptoms is individual.

How to Deal with Cravings and Urges to Gamble

Feeling the urge to gamble is normal on the road to recovery. But when quitting gambling is a goal and building strong support system is set, it is easier to resist the urge to gamble. When the craving starts to come up, following 3 actions are required:

  • Avoid Isolation: When being alone, falling for gambling habit is easy. So, when you feel the urge, contact trusted person or a support group.

  • Think of the consequences: When feeling the urge to gamble, visualizing what happens if you give up is possible. Quick pleasure you get from gambling is not worth disappointing both yourself and the people who support you.

  • Distract yourself with another activity: Going to the gym, theatre, sports with family and friends or travelling or any other relaxing and creative activity- prevent from thinking about gambling.

tennis with friends

How to Deal with Setbacks and Relapses

Setbacks and occasional periods of relapse are possible in recovery process. When it happens, it is important not to despair, as this can also be part of the recovery process.

How to Stay Motivated to Stay Gambling-free

Quitting gambling is hard, but staying away from gambling after is harder. It is very important to find ways to stay motivated during your journey to recovery. There are 4 most important ways to stay motivated and be gambling-free:

Find a Support System

While staying away from gambling after quitting on your own is not impossible, having a support system will make it easier and increase odds of beating the addiction completely. Surrounding with people you can trust to encourage, motivate you and keep you away from gambling is beneficial.

Avoid Boredom

One of the causes of relapse is boredom. It is easy to get tempted to gamble when having a free time so planning days and avoiding extended periods of boredom is recommendable.

Find New Gambling-free Hobbies

Gambling becomes a hobby like any other activity. After quitting gambling, it is important to find one or more new non-addictive hobbies to enjoy. 

Avoid Triggers

One of the safest ways to stay away from gambling is to avoid gambling triggers. These triggers can be different from one person to another. It can be traumatic circumstances, stress on the job or elsewhere, emotional upheaval like anxiety or depression, loneliness or spending time in gambling environment. 

How to Rebuild your Life after Quitting Gambling

Rebuilding life after quitting gambling is possible with 4 following steps:

  • Commit yourself to your relationship with others and yourself with consistency, compassion, and honesty.

  • Find a balanced routine to approach daily activities and avoid doing anything in excess.

  • Start rebuilding your finances.

  • Continue counselling to avoid relapse and reoccurrence of your precarious situation.

FAQs

What are the warning signs of gambling addiction?

The warning signs of gambling addiction include but are not limited to gambling to relieve stress or escape problems, spending more than you can afford, trying to control or stop gambling unsuccessfully, etc.

What is Gamblers Anonymous?

Gambler Anonymous is a support group that consists of people who share their experiences with others to solve their common problems with gambling addiction.

What are the long-term effects of gambling addiction?

Long-term gambling addiction can result in mounting debts, relationship issues, problems at work, and mental health issues like depression, anxiety, and other similar issues.

Can I contact addictive gambling helpline?

Yes, you can contact 1800 936 725 for help.

What percentage of people recover from gambling addiction?

According to Gamblers Anonymous 50–70% of its attendees experience sustained recovery.

Which Organisations Help With Problem Gambling?

The most important organisations that help people with pathological gambling issues are:

 Contact Irish Luck 

Our mission is to safeguard player safety. If you or someone you know is struggling, reach out to any team member- they are here to help and guide you if you need it.

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The author is a seasoned writer who has been working independently for over 7 years. Farah Jassawalla is our responsible gambling specialist. She has a passion for providing the latest ...continue reading

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Fact-checked by: Rebecca Mackay
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