How can I start getting help for gambling addiction?

In the United Kingdom, it’s estimated that approximately 430,000 people are considered to be problem gamblers.

In fact, according to The Gambling Commission, 46 percent of people have gambled in the past four weeks. 

While gambling might seem like harmless fun, it can be a slippery slope. The endorphins we feel when we win a big payout makes us want to go back for more, and in some cases, gambling can become a habit that quickly slips from our control.

It can leave us penniless, depressed and can even cause us to commit crimes to fuel the habit – The National Council of Problem Gambling discovered that an estimated 50 percent of problem gamblers commit crimes to support their addiction. 

And gambling is an addiction.

It’s as addictive as sex and pornography.

It’s as addictive as social media and technology. It’s even as addictive as substances like cocaine or heroin.

In this blog post, we outline a few ways to help overcome your addiction.

Open up to your family and friends

Gambling addiction Camino Recovery

It might sound obvious, but opening up to your family and friends and seeking help from your community is the best way to begin tackling your gambling addiction.

Sure, it might be difficult to talk about these things and expose your flaws, but in the long-term, talking with your support network is your best chance of overcoming your habit.

Unfortunately, as is the case with many addictions, people often isolate themselves and feel like they have no one to turn to. This breeds mental health issues like anxiety, depression and insomnia, to name a few. 

You don’t need to be alone in dealing with your addictions. Turn to the people closest to you and focus on a solution, not the problem. Chances are, they’ll be grateful for your honesty and openness. 

Recognise your addiction

Addiction Gambling

There’s nothing wrong with gambling for entertainment, but there is something wrong when you gamble because you need to

Most problem gamblers are habitual gamblers.

Like social media, it’s an instinctive thing to do when you feel low and you want to experience a ‘rush’, and it’s that desire for endorphins that is causing you to return to the roulette wheel or race track. 

Our advice, then, is to try and check yourself.

Become conscious of your gambling habit and try to keep track of how much money you’re spending compared to how much you’re losing.

If it’s a once-a-week gamble in the casino with your friends, it might not be an issue, but if you’re in the casino on midday on a Tuesday and you’re tucking into your savings, it’s time to seek help.

Find the right tools to quit

When you feel the urge to gamble, you need to delay and distract. 

This ‘distraction’ can lead to people finding another vice that helps them to overcome their habit. At least in the beginning.

Gambling releases endorphins. People often turn to different ways to stimulate this part of the brain.

Many people turn to exercise. Others meditate or get massages.

Overcoming these initial urges is hard and can require residential treatment. It quickly becomes time to start looking at what’s causing this destructive behaviour in the first place.

Seek out professional help

Seeking help

In some cases, gambling can ruin a person’s life, and outside council might be the only option to start anew. 

If you feel like you’re descending down a path of self-destruction because of your addiction to gambling, we encourage you to seek professional help.

Many people turn to rehab as a viable option to regain control and get healthy again.

In rehab, you can get help with tried and tested treatment programmes from clinical experts, and you can also find a group of people who understand exactly what you’re going through. Achieving gambling sobriety is far easier when you’re held accountable by your peers.

It’s the reason Alcoholics Anonymous is so successful, and it’s why group therapy is an extremely viable way of overcoming your habit.

Next time you have an urge to gamble, try this

Resisting natural urges is a tough thing to do. At times, we all fall victims to our desires. It’s human nature.

The next time you feel an urge to gamble, try to:

  • Relax and focus on staying calm.
  • Take some deep breaths to slow yourself down and refocus on what you can do, right now.
  • Try to distract yourself with an activity to keep calm, such as a shower or a bath. Or read a book, cook a healthy meal or watch a TV show to stop thinking about gambling. Whatever it is, find an activity that suits you.
  • Try to resist this urge for at least an hour. In most cases, the desire to gamble will fade away. If it doesn’t….
  • Phone someone. Seek help.

Lastly, set a goal for yourself and develop a list of reasons why you made the decision not to gamble. For example:

  • I will have more money to put towards a holiday.
  • I will be able to hold my head up high.
  • My family will be proud.
  • I will be able to pay my bills.
  • As my savings begin to grow money will have value once again.

Whatever your goal may be, we encourage you to resist the urge and speak with your family and friends to help you overcome your habit.

Remember: you’re not alone in this and isolating yourself will only fuel your addiction. 

To find out more about gambling addiction and ways to treat it, read here.

David Scourfield

David Scourfield is a Camino Recovery team member since 2017, focused on facilitating communication with Clinical and other professionals to ensure a comprehensive understanding of Camino's program.

Combining his marketing skills and lived experiences, he joined Camino in 2017, contributing to external publications and the Camino website. With a strong belief in solidarity during the recovery process, David helps clients build support networks by connecting them with others in recovery.

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