How to Recover From Gambling Addiction

Having a gambling problem can be devastating to relationships, finances and wellbeing. It can also lead to feelings of guilt, shame and low self-esteem. Fortunately, you can recover from gambling addiction and rebuild your life. You just need to take the right steps and learn to manage your emotions in healthier ways.

Gambling involves risking something of value in the hope of winning an item of equal value. It can be based on skill, such as knowing strategies for card games or horses, but is usually a game of chance. This includes activities like fruit machines, two-up and betting on football accumulators or scratchcards. It can also include speculating about business, insurance policies or stocks.

Many people develop a gambling disorder due to family or cultural influences. Some societies consider gambling a normal pastime, and this can make it hard to recognize a problem. Other factors that can contribute to gambling problems include mood disorders, such as depression and anxiety, which may trigger or be made worse by compulsive gambling. This may be accompanied by social or work-related stress, alcohol and drug abuse, and/or relationship problems.

The risk of developing a gambling problem increases with age. It is also more common for men to develop a gambling disorder than women. Problem gambling is often linked to boredom, isolation and a desire for excitement, as well as a feeling that you can’t control your circumstances or environment. It can also be triggered by events in your life, such as arguments with your partner or stressful work situations.

Some people are genetically predisposed to gambling problems and may have an underactive reward system in the brain. Others are more likely to be impulsive and seek thrills. These factors can be influenced by environmental and genetic factors, such as childhood trauma and parental behaviour.

If you’re worried about your own gambling habits or those of a loved one, speak to a therapist. BetterHelp is an online therapy service that matches you with accredited therapists who can help with mental health issues including depression, anxiety and gambling problems. You can take a free assessment and get started with your therapist in as little as 48 hours.

Start by setting a fixed amount of money that you’re willing to lose and stick to it. This will help you keep track of how much you’re spending, and it will give you a clear cut when to stop. It’s also helpful to stay away from alcohol and free cocktails at casinos, as they can lead to over-gambling. Finally, be sure to tip the dealers regularly – either with cash or by handing them a chip and saying “this is for you”. They will appreciate it! This is especially important when you’re playing a table game, as most casinos are not equipped with clocks and it can be easy to lose track of time. It’s also a good idea to practice relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing or meditation.