Gambling is a form of entertainment, but also a risky activity. If you find yourself relying on others for money, or are having a hard time deciding whether to gamble or not, you may be experiencing problem gambling. This disorder can affect individuals, families and society as a whole.
Gambling can be addictive, especially if you’re not aware of it. Practicing relaxation techniques and getting exercise can help you deal with the negative feelings that can occur from gambling. However, if you find yourself unable to control your urges, you should contact a mental health professional. Behavioral therapy can help you understand and change your behaviors.
Problem gambling is often associated with other mood disorders, including depression and anxiety. Even when you stop gambling, the problem may continue. Some studies show that problem gambling is a progressive condition. The gambling addict may gamble in smaller amounts to get a sense of euphoria, then increase the amount as they become more bored. They may lie about the extent of their gambling.
Although there are no approved medications for gambling disorders, medication may be used to treat co-occurring conditions. In addition, counseling can help you better understand your behavior and work through any problems. You can even work with a sponsor to provide guidance and support.
Admitting that you have a problem with gambling is the first step in overcoming the addiction. It can be embarrassing and cause strained relationships, but you can do it. Getting support from family and friends can be critical to your recovery. Consider joining a peer support group or taking a class on coping with gambling.
When you begin to feel like you need to take action to stop your gambling habits, you should try to set a boundary around your finances. For example, you should keep a small cash reserve, avoid credit cards and let someone else manage your money. Also, if you do decide to gamble, set a limit on the amount of money that you’re willing to lose. Keeping a boundary around your money will keep you accountable and help you avoid relapse.
Family and marital therapy can also help you work through any underlying issues. Problem gamblers tend to be socially isolated, and having the support of family and friends can be crucial to your recovery. There are many resources available to you, including NIDA (National Institute on Drug Abuse) grants.
Counseling can be free, confidential and available around the clock. If you have any questions or concerns, you can call the National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357) or check out Gamblers Anonymous, a 12-step recovery program patterned after Alcoholics Anonymous.
Having the courage to admit that you have a gambling problem is a difficult step, but it can be essential to your recovery. Trying to cope with your gambling disorder can be stressful and you may feel overwhelmed. A support group can give you the emotional and psychological support you need, while making you realize you’re not alone.