Joey is 36 years old. With a degree in computer science, he has always been quite intelligent. About 10 years ago, Joey started playing poker with his colleagues occasionally as a way to make lasting friendships and unwind from the stresses of work. Before these intermittent poker meet ups with friends, Joey had never gambled before.
By the time he was 30, Joey had made a couple of trips to Vegas and Atlantic City. By this point, his fascination with gambling had grown so much that he was gambling online on a daily basis. There were times that Joey managed to walk away with enormous amounts of winnings. However, when Joey started arriving to work late and sometimes even skipping altogether to attend underground poker tournaments, it was clear that something was off.
Joey played poker almost solely, often wagering thousands upon thousands of dollars with each tournament. In those instances that he lost, he would often find himself digging under the couch pillows for coins to buy his next meal. Ultimately, by the time he had turned 35, Joey had blown every dime he had ever saved and maxed out several cards.
It was not until recently that Joey finally admitted that he might have a gambling problem. A few years ago gambling was perceived as more of a compulsion rather than an addiction. Because gambling has become more tolerable and accessible than ever before thanks to the growth of the internet, effective treatment for gambling addicts has become vital.
A few hours of undisruptive fun at the slots or a weekly card game with friends and family never hurt anybody. However, the dark side of gambling can lead to personal and financial ruin. So what should you do if you are addicted to gambling? Here are some tips to help:
Start by admitting that you have a problem
The notion that an individual can become addicted to a habit such as betting the same way an individual can get hooked on drugs may be hard to swallow. However, that is exactly what gambling is; it’s just like any addiction and it should be treated as such. For you to get the help that you need, you first need to admit that you gave a problem.
“According to Kate Huber, chief editor at NJGamblingFun, ‘’ compulsive gamblers simply cannot ‘hold ’em or fold ’em’ like professionals or people gambling for fun can. They struggle with both time and money. Gambling takes over, and they find themselves continuously upping the ante using money budgeted for bills, investments and even their children’s educating. They try to quit, but they don’t seem able to.’’
Experts claim that treatment for addiction is typically infective if the addict does not accept culpability. Accepting that you are struggling with a problem means that you are ready to take the steps needed to turn things around.
Look for help and support
The extent and degree of gambling addiction varies from one person to the next and there is no recognized pattern. However, it is widely accepted that problem gamblers do not only pose problems for themselves, but others too. Gambling has been associated with bankruptcies, child neglect, increased burglaries, home foreclosures and even worse, suicides.
That being said, a gambling addiction is not something that you can deal with on your own. Family and friends can be a great source of encouragement and support but groups such as Gamblers Anonymous can also help you maintain your abstinence.
Avoid boredom and idleness
When you are a problem gambler, you get so used to the thrills of active addiction, which naturally causes you to struggle with moments of boredom and periods of idleness. To prevent yourself from reverting to old ways, try and keep yourself as busy as possible. Doing so will prevent you from being tempted to fill these instances of tedium with gambling.
The best way to avoid being bored is to find alternatives to gambling. When you replace gambling with positive alternatives, you will be able to shift focus away from the negative. Some activities that you can try include:
- Spending time with loved ones
- Exploring new pastimes
Avoid gambling temptation
It is so easy to get tempted to gamble if you are constantly surrounded by things that make you want to gamble. Therefore, the best thing that you can do for your recovery is to avoid the temptation to gamble in the first place. This means keeping away from anyone, any places or activities linked to gambling in all shapes and forms.
For instance, if your route home involves driving by a casino, it is probably best that you find an alternative route home. If watching sports causes you to gamble, it might be best to take a break from sports related activities for a while. By doing your best to avoid these triggers, you can evade the thoughts and urges that might cause a setback.
Find professional assistance
If your gambling problem is severe or out of control, then you should seriously consider getting professional help. Assistance for gambling usually can be acquired from any mental health or addiction specialist. An expert can teach you valuable skills that can help you stay away from gambling triggers.
Because gambling often comes with feelings of shame, guilt and regret, a gambling addiction specialist can also help you to deconstruct your emotions so that you can avoid relapsing. Remember that carrying around too much shame and guilt will be counterproductive to your recovery process so try not to dwell too much on your mistakes and focus on your gambling-free future.
Today, Joey attends Gamblers Anonymous meetings, is thinking about talking to a therapist about his problems and is even thinking of starting his own computer programming consultancy.
‘’I realized that I was suffering from an addiction; and it took a long time for me to admit it to myself.’’ Like Joey, you too can turn your life around if you think that you are struggling with a gambling problem.
Remember that the potential problems that stem from gambling often go beyond the financial. As such, if you suspect that you might be dealing with a gambling problem, it is important that you seek help as soon as you can. You will be surprised by the number of helpful resources available at your disposal. So, do it now!