How to treat a gambling addiction
1. Admit you have a problem
Gambling is like any addiction: The first step is to admit you have a problem. Experts say treatment won’t be effective if the addict can’t take this important first step. Admitting to the problem means you’re ready to make an effort to stop.
2. Get support
Gambling addictions are hard to fight alone. Family and friends can be a good source of support, and Gamblers Anonymous can help recovering addicts share their experiences and find encouragement.
3. Avoid temptation
Addicts have to avoid environments that lead to gambling. Stay away from casinos, race tracks, poker games, or anything else that might remind or tempt you. Cut bad influences out of your life.
Take away sources for financing your habit by giving your spouse or someone else control of your money. If you’re using credit cards to fund your habit, cut them up and close the accounts.
4. Replace gambling with something positive
Find a replacement activity or hobby. Whether it’s jogging, rock climbing, or fly fishing, find something to take the place of gambling.
5. Seek professional help
The intensity of treatment for gambling addiction varies case-by-case. Up to 70 percent of those with gambling addictions may have other psychiatric conditions, making additional treatment necessary.
Psychotherapy may be a part of treatment, and medications are sometimes prescribed that help reduces the urge to wager.
Certified Gambling Counseling is available through the National Counsel on Problem Gambling – something often recommended in addition to Gamblers Anonymous and family support.
Bottom line? Gambling comes in many forms, from a $2 lottery ticket to a $200,000 stock market bet. While there’s nothing wrong with the occasional wager, when it starts negatively impacting your life, take control of the problem before it takes control of you.
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