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Can't stop gambling?

It may feel as though you can’t stop gambling right now, but a life free from betting is absolutely possible, even if you can’t see it just yet. Through hard work, dedication and the right support system, you can get back to enjoying a life that isn’t consumed by a gambling addiction.

The fact you’re reading this page suggests it’s likely that you have started to recognise that you have an issue with gambling. This is a commendable first step, and one that you should be proud of. Acknowledging and accepting that there is a problem you need to address is often a catalyst for real change.  

We will outline steps that can help you to quit gambling as well as the professional treatment that is available for people who feel that they can’t stop gambling and want to beat their addiction.

What to do if you feel that you can’t stop gambling

Self-exclude

Self-exclusion can stop you from being able to access venues and websites that you use to bet. It can also stop you from receiving any marketing material that you may find triggering. There are different schemes available that allow you to self-exclude from different forms of gambling – this website can help you to put these barriers in place.

Talk to the person closest to you, whether that is a partner, parent or friend

The idea of opening up about feeling that you can’t stop gambling may be frightening, but it is an important step that you need to take.

Before the conversation, think carefully about what you want to say. Consider discussing when it started, when it became a problem and how it makes you feel. You may also want to discuss the impact that it has had, including any financial repercussions. Also think about mentioning what steps you are going to put in place to help you, and if you would like the person to do anything specific to support you as you stop gambling.

It is important to remember that you can’t predict how the person will react. They may be angry, sad or even relieved that you have opened up. Also they are likely to have questions, so be prepared for this. Be open and honest so that you can start to recover and rebuild the relationship, which may have been damaged by your gambling.

Stick to a strict day-to-day plan

Plan out your days carefully and keep yourself busy as this can help to remove the temptation to gamble.

Make a list of things that you like to do, and schedule these at times when you are most likely to want to gamble. You may want to try activities that boost your adrenaline or that have a competitive edge, as this could give you a similar feeling to what you possibly sought from gambling, without having any of the negative repercussions. Also make sure that you spend your days with people who don’t gamble.

Keep a daily journal

Writing a daily journal can help you to start understanding the thoughts and feelings that trigger your desire to gamble. You may find that you get these urges when you are bored, stressed, or need an escape. Reflect on these possible triggers and think about what coping strategies can be put in place to deal with them going forward.

When you are stopping gambling, you are likely to experience withdrawal symptoms, which can include sadness, irritability, shakiness and heart palpitations. Keep note of these in your journal, as this is a good place to explore these feelings.  

Attend Gamblers Anonymous

Gamblers Anonymous gives you the opportunity to meet other people who feel that they can’t stop gambling as well as those who are no longer gambling. The groups give people a chance to share their experiences, help others and support their recovery.

There are Gamblers Anonymous meeting throughout the UK, and their website has a forum and chat room for online support.

Get professional treatment for gambling addiction

At Priory Group, we have a number of treatment options for gambling addiction. At one of your early meetings with the team, we will carry out a free initial assessment* to determine the best form of treatment for you.

Our residential addiction treatment programme is often recommended for people who feel that they can’t stop gambling. It gives you the time, space and professional support that you need to help you start your recovery. Through group and one-to-one therapy sessions, seminars, workshops and individual working time, you can start to address the impact gambling has had on you and the people you are close to, recognise triggers for your addictive behaviours and learn coping strategies for navigating your life going forward.

Day treatment sessions – where you attend therapy for a series of full or half-day sessions – are also an option for people experiencing gambling issues. This programme is particularly valuable for people who would benefit from structured ongoing support, but who may not need 24-hour care and support.

Outpatient treatment such as weekly one-on-one or online  therapy sessions are another option. Within these sessions, you have the opportunity to discuss your gambling with a qualified therapist and learn strategies for managing this behaviour going forward.

*Individuals with dual diagnosis may need to be assessed by a consultant psychiatrist which is a chargeable appointment.

Blog reviewed by Lee Rolleston, addiction therapist at Priory Hospital Chelmsford

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