How to Overcome a Gambling Addiction


Gambling is a risky activity where you wager something of value on an event with the chance of losing it. Some forms of gambling are purely chance-based, such as the lottery, while others involve skill and strategy. In either case, gambling can be a very addictive activity and cause financial problems for people with compulsive gambling disorder. It can also erode relationships, work performance and academic achievement, and lead to bankruptcy and homelessness.

The first step in overcoming a gambling addiction is acknowledging that you have a problem. While this can be difficult, many people who struggle with gambling disorder have successfully broken the habit and rebuilt their lives. During therapy, you will learn about the triggers of your gambling addiction and gain the tools to combat it. Your therapist may use cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), which is effective for changing unhelpful behaviors and thought patterns associated with gambling. They may also help you resolve family, work and relationship issues that contribute to your problem gambling.

CBT can be used to treat both impulsive and compulsive gambling disorders. It involves teaching you how to recognize and respond to urges, set limits on your gambling activities and deal with the negative consequences of your behavior. It is also an excellent tool for resolving underlying mental health issues that contribute to compulsive gambling, including depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorder. You may also be prescribed medication to control your impulses, such as a mood stabilizer or antidepressant.

A key factor in developing a gambling disorder is an inherent desire to take risks. This can be a genetic predisposition, or it can be influenced by environmental factors such as culture, peer pressure and upbringing. Certain medications are also known to alleviate the symptoms of gambling disorder, such as certain antidepressants and naltrexone, which is an opiate antagonist that reduces the brain’s production of dopamine.

Whether it is buying a lotto ticket, placing a bet on a football game or playing the pokies, most people will gamble at some point in their lives. It is important to understand how gambling works and that it is not a way to make money. Rather, it is an expense that should be budgeted accordingly.

Gambling is an incredibly addictive activity, and it is easy to lose track of time when you are absorbed in the action. A great way to avoid this is to set an alarm on your phone, or to join a support group such as Gamblers Anonymous, which follows a 12-step model similar to Alcoholics Anonymous. It can also be beneficial to surround yourself with positive people and to find other ways to relieve boredom or unpleasant emotions, such as exercising, socializing with friends who don’t gamble, or practicing relaxation techniques. Lastly, you can also strengthen your support network by seeking treatment for your gambling addiction or joining a gambling recovery program. Many of these groups include a sponsor, who is a former gambler with experience staying clean and sober.