Gambling Addiction

Whether it is that you bet on sports, cards, roulette, poker, or slotsóin a casino or onlineóproblem gambling can destroy everything you hold dear, interfere with work, and lead to financial catastrophe. Although you may like to think of yourself as in control you may even do things you never thought you would, like stealing money to gamble or pay your debts. Most importantly you may think that it is out of control but, with the right help, you can overcome a gambling problem or addiction and regain control of your life. Others have been there before you and won, so can you. The first step is recognizing and acknowledging the problem.

Gambling addiction, also known as compulsive gambling, is an impulse-control disorder. Compulsive gamblers canít control the impulse to gamble. Gambling is all they can think about and all they want to do, no matter the consequences. Even when they know the odds are against them, even when they canít afford to lose, people with a gambling addiction canít resist a bet.

You may have a gambling problem if you:

  • Feel the need to be secretive about your gambling. You might gamble in secret or lie about how much you gamble, feeling others wonít understand or that you will surprise them with a big win.
  • Have trouble controlling your gambling. Once you start gambling, can you walk away? Or are you compelled to gamble until youíve spent every rupee you have, upping your bets in a bid to win lost money back?
  • Gamble even when you donít have the money. A red flag is when you are getting more and more desperate to recoup your losses. You may gamble until youíve spent every rupee you could rustle up and then move on to money you donít have- money to pay bills, credit cards, or things for your children. You may feel pushed to borrow, sell, or even steal things for gambling money. You may sincerely believe that gambling more money is the only way to win lost money back. But it only drags you deeper and deeper into the mire.
  • Family and friends are worried about you. If friends and family are worried, listen to them carefully. Take a hard look at how gambling is affecting your life. Itís not a sign of weakness to ask for help.

Treatment for problem gambling

Every gambler is unique and so needs a recovery program tailored specifically to him or her. The biggest step in treatment is realizing you have a problem with gambling. It takes tremendous strength and courage to own up to this, especially if you have lost a lot of money and strained or broken relationships along the way.

Group support for gambling addiction and problem gambling

Gamblers Anonymous is a twelve-step recovery program patterned after Alcoholics Anonymous. A key part of a 12-step program is choosing a sponsor. A sponsor is a former gambler who has time and experience remaining free from addiction, and can often provide invaluable guidance and support.

Therapy for problem gambling

Cognitive-behavioral therapy for problem gambling focuses on changing unhealthy gambling behaviors and thoughts, such as rationalizations and false beliefs. It also teaches problem gamblers how to fight gambling urges, deal with uncomfortable emotions rather than escape through gambling, and solve financial, work, and relationship problems caused by the addiction. To achieve this you need to meet a psychologist or psychiatrist well versed in handling problems of complexity similar to yours.

In India seeing a therapist has long been viewed with a negative connotation however seeing a therapist does not mean you are weak or canít handle your problems. Therapy is for people who are smart enough to realize they need help. It can give you tools and support for reframing your thoughts that will help you escape the hell you are in and give you the emotional strength to last a lifetime of abstinence from gambling.

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