How to Overcome a Gambling Disorder


Gambling is a game of chance in which players stake something valuable that has the potential to win a prize. It is commonly associated with casinos but can also occur at gas stations, racetracks, church halls and sporting events. People gamble for a variety of reasons: to win money, to socialize with friends, as a way to relieve boredom or to escape unpleasant emotions.

Some people develop an addiction to gambling, which is characterized by compulsive and uncontrollable urges to gamble. This is a serious mental health issue that can damage relationships, lead to debt and even bankruptcies. It is important for individuals who believe they may be struggling with a gambling disorder to seek treatment.

The good news is that a person can overcome gambling addiction and regain control of their finances and relationships. The first step is admitting that you have a problem, which can be difficult, especially if you have lost significant amounts of money or if the addiction has strained or broken family ties. Seek professional help, which may be in the form of family therapy or marriage, career and credit counseling. A therapist can help you work through the specific issues that caused or made worse your gambling disorder and teach you coping skills to manage your symptoms.

Another key to recovery is developing a support network. This can include friends and family who don’t gamble, as well as support groups for those with gambling disorders. Some of these groups are based on peer support and use a 12-step program similar to Alcoholics Anonymous. Others, such as Gamblers Anonymous, are led by a sponsor who has experience remaining free from gambling and can provide guidance and support.

It is also a good idea to spend time on other hobbies or activities that are not connected with gambling. This can help you to find other ways of soothing unpleasant feelings, socializing or escaping boredom. For example, try exercising, spending time with non-gambling friends or practicing relaxation techniques.

Taking regular breaks can also improve your focus while gambling. It is easy to get wrapped up in the excitement of a casino and lose track of time. You can also set an alarm or use a timer to remind you to stop gambling.

It is also a good idea to establish clear financial boundaries before gambling. This can be done by setting aside a specific amount of money for gambling and committing to not spending any more than that. You can also ask a trusted friend or family member to watch your finances and keep you accountable. Lastly, it is important to reduce risk factors, such as using credit cards and gambling at night or online.