As a loved one of someone suffering from gambling disorder, you can help encourage them to seek treatment and set boundaries regarding money and credit – taking any mention of suicide seriously as well.
As depression or other mood disorders may contribute to gambling behavior, cognitive-behavioral therapy can also help alter unhealthy thoughts and behaviors associated with gambling.
Reflect on Your Past
Individuals seeking recovery for gambling disorders face many dilemmas and feelings of guilt related to financial difficulties, the way compulsive gambling has damaged relationships within their family or the impact it’s had on their health.
Reflection can help motivate you to address any lingering issues. Writing down experiences or making a list may help get the ball rolling on addressing whatever’s bothering you can be helpful ways of starting this process.
Reflection can help identify triggers of gambling. Perhaps your addiction to gambling is made worse by stressful situations or specific people; by learning these triggers and how to avoid them in future. As an alternative, volunteering or engaging in new hobbies might provide relief from cravings to gamble while simultaneously rewarding you with a sense of achievement and fulfillment.
Delay the Decision to Gamble
People often experience the urge to gamble in advance of an anticipated event such as a holiday, birthday party or achievement award. By being aware of potential triggers and testing whether such thoughts (that this time it will be different) have any merit, you can control any urge that arises before it turns into an impulse.
One way to prevent gambling addiction is to take one step at a time and put off your urges by practicing abstinence for just one day at a time. By building confidence that you can refrain from engaging in this behavior, day-by-day is often enough for most.
Gamblers Anonymous offers another cognitive behavioral therapy solution. Following in the footsteps of Alcoholics Anonymous, this program uses cognitive behavioral techniques to alter unhealthy gambling behavior. This approach has proven highly successful at helping compulsive gamblers fight urges and manage difficult emotions without resorting to gambling; furthermore it provides support from peers facing similar struggles. Often this form of treatment will include individual counseling from licensed professional counselors as well.
Talk to a Psychiatrist
Mental health professionals can assess your gambling behavior and help find an appropriate treatment for it. They may also review your medical history to identify conditions which could contribute to compulsive gambling; such as some medications having side effects which cause compulsive gambling in certain people.
Cognitive behavioral therapy provides you with the skills needed to identify and change unhealthy thought patterns that promote gambling. Furthermore, they teach coping techniques for dealing with urges related to gambling as well as financial, workplace and relationship problems caused by it.
If someone you know has a gambling issue, speak to them openly about it. Don’t lecture or accuse; listen attentively and offer support. Encourage professional help as a solution and reduce risks such as using credit cards, taking out loans, carrying large sums of money, using gambling venues as social venues or using credit cards to pay bills or for socializing purposes. Help them find other recreational or social activities to replace gambling and find ways to cope with negative emotions.
Gambling addiction often leads to debt, family distress and even criminal activities such as theft or fraud. Furthermore, it may lead to health concerns including heart conditions and high blood pressure; additionally, it could trigger mental illnesses like depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
People suffering from gambling addiction may be reluctant to seek treatment, but admitting there is a problem is the first step toward healing and can help identify its source. Once this process starts, individuals can address what’s driving their gambling behavior.
Treatment options may include psychotherapy or support groups like Gamblers Anonymous. Behavior therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy and other forms of talk therapy can help individuals overcome unhealthy thoughts and irrational beliefs that drive compulsive gambling behavior; additionally they can learn healthier coping techniques and how to deal with triggers more effectively. Antidepressants, mood stabilizers and opioid antagonists used for substance misuse treatment can also aid compulsive gambling behavior.