How to Overcome a Gambling Addiction


Whether it’s buying a lotto ticket, placing a bet on the horses or spinning the reels of online pokies, gambling can cause harm when it becomes out of control. The problem may be a combination of factors including the reward center in your brain, personality traits and coexisting mental health conditions. Gambling also has a negative impact on your family, friends and finances.

When it comes to gambling, people often start out with good intentions. However, it can be hard to tell when things begin to go awry. In many cases, individuals will downplay the problem and lie to their loved ones. They might continue to gamble even when it affects their finances, work, education or personal relationships. In extreme cases, they may even turn to stealing or fraud.

Many different treatments can help a person overcome a gambling addiction. A common approach is cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), which teaches individuals to resist unwanted thoughts and habits. For example, someone with a gambling addiction might learn to challenge their irrational beliefs such as that they are more likely to win than other people or that certain rituals can bring luck.

Another effective treatment for gambling addiction is group therapy, which helps individuals connect with others who have similar problems. This can be particularly helpful for people who have lost contact with their friends and families as a result of their addiction. Many of the same techniques used in individual CBT are applied in group therapy, and there are a variety of groups for those struggling with gambling disorder available in the United States, including Gamblers Anonymous.

Some people can address their gambling problems without help, but most require professional support. Counseling can help individuals understand gambling and think about how it might affect their family. It can also teach them coping skills and provide moral support. Medications are not typically used to treat gambling disorders, but they can be useful for treating coexisting mental health conditions.

It’s important to remember that there are no “quick fixes” for gambling addiction. Recovery takes time and requires commitment from the individual as well as their loved ones. For those struggling with gambling addiction, it’s best to seek treatment early on to reduce the risk of serious consequences.

The key to managing gambling addiction is to only gamble with money you can afford to lose. Set money and time limits, and stick to them. Don’t use credit cards or borrow money to gamble, and don’t try to win back your losses by chasing them. Instead, focus on other activities that make you happy, such as spending time with friends or enjoying a hobby. And, most importantly, never gamble when you’re depressed or upset. This will increase your chances of making poor decisions that can lead to bigger losses. If you need help, don’t hesitate to call a hotline or speak to a therapist. You can also visit StepChange, a debt charity, for free, confidential advice.