What to Do When Gambling Becomes Your Drug of Choice


Gambling Addiction

When gambling becomes your drug of choice, the first step is to acknowledge that you have a problem. Self-awareness is a great first step, but often you may need to heed the advice of friends and family who are close to you and are seeing the effects of your addiction first hand. Denial may be the first reaction, but the level of your addiction will soon be clear for it is rare that a gambling problem cures itself. To the contrary, gambling is like a virus that affects other healthy areas of one’s life. The drain on finances and household funds may cause a chain reaction that will place at risk the individual’s home and overall way of life.

The best prospect for recovery is when a person heeds the warning signs and accepts the fact that they need help. The sooner he or she recognizes the need for help, the faster they can begin the road to recovery and the process of repairing those areas of their life which were adversely affected by their gambling habit. Relationships may need to be rebuilt or consequences may need to be addressed if the gambling problem reached the point of criminal activity. Recognizing and accepting the fact that to gamble is your drug of choice is the key first step.

Gambling Addiction

Gambling habits to the level of addiction are also known as a condition of compulsive gambling. This type of gambling is an impulse control disorder. The compulsive gambler cannot control their urge to gamble, regardless of the fact that they know that their actions are harmful to themselves as well as others. There are no rational actions for a compulsive gambler. They cannot quit even if they are ahead. The end result does not matter. The action is the narcotic high and not the wins or losses.

There is no simple formula to being an addicted gambler. You do not have to gamble every day. It does not matter whether you can afford to gamble or not. Even if you have the means to endure significant losses, you are still damaging personal relationships. A compulsive gambler is never at fault and if there is a detrimental effect on close friends, family and associates, it is their fault and never the fault of the gambler. This problem is made even worse when the gambler does not have the means to gamble and it taxes the family finances, even to the point of pushing the family to bankruptcy to service their gambling habit.

Ask For Help, You Can’t Do It Alone

When a gambler has recognized that they need help, they should not try to rely on their own methods to cure themselves. Just like a major medical condition will need to be treated with the help and support of others, gambling addiction is no less a medical malady. For many gamblers, a key factor in quitting the gambling habit is finding other ways to handle the emotional void one feels when they are no longer gambling. What one does not want to do is to replace one bad habit with another bad habit. What needs to be addressed is the issue or issues that led  to compulsive gambling in the first place.

Each gambler is different, which requires that their recovery program be flexible.  Each individual is unique and needs a recovery program tailored specifically to him or her. Recovery programs can be reviewed to meet the gambler’s needs. A key factor in many of these programs is the selection of a sponsor who can be a confidant to the recovering gambler. Being a recovering gambler himself, the sponsor can provide invaluable advice and counsel to the recovering gambler.

Get Professional Help

Help can also be found in trained professionals in the cognitive behavioral therapy field. These professionals are able to focus the recovery on altering the gambler’s unhealthy addictive behaviors, habits and thoughts. This includes any false rationalizations as well as false beliefs. These types of specialists can also guide recovering gamblers on how to resist the urges to gamble, as well as how to deal with any uncomfortable emotions used to escape their reality through gambling. These specialists also assist in helping to rebuild and solve issues such as financial, work, and relationship problems which were caused by the gambling addiction.

The key goal of a drug rehab treatment plan is to try to “rewire” the gambling addict’s brain by selecting thoughts about gambling in a different manner. A variation of different cognitive behavioral therapy programs can be used in the treatment of many compulsive recovering gamblers. The recovery goal is to alter the thoughts, actions and beliefs regarding gambling in a few simple steps: relabel, re-attribute, refocus, and revalue. The more that the recovering gambler participates and understands the nature of their recovery, the more effective the process will be for the long-term.

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