How to stop a gambling addiction

Read our advice and information on how to put a stop to a gambling addiction, including the steps you can take, the support available and the professional treatment you can access in order to recover.

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If you are looking for advice on how to stop a gambling addiction, we have outlined the steps that you can take to put a stop to the problem. We have also included information on the professional rehabilitative treatment that is available here at Priory Group, where our team will work with you to help you achieve a gambling-free life.

You’ve already taken the first step towards stopping your gambling addiction

By searching online for advice on how to stop a gambling addiction, you’ve already taken the first important step towards your recovery and overcome your gambling symptoms. You are starting to recognise gambling for what it is - something that is completely destructive to yours and other people’s lives. When you are able to accept that gambling has this damaging grip over you - and you have a real desire to stop - you are in the right place to make the right changes.

Remember, many people have put a stop to their gambling and it is something that you can do too. We understand that quitting may seem daunting right now, but with time, dedication and support, it is something that you can achieve.

Managing your urges when trying to stop a gambling addiction

When thinking about how to stop your gambling addiction, it is important to recognise that when you do quit, you are likely to experience really strong urges.

This is something that you need to prepare for. These urges can be very strong at the beginning, so figuring out ways to recognise and manage these craving effectively is valuable. Some things that you can do to prepare for them include:

  • Self-exclusion from gambling websites, bricks-and-mortar shops and casinos. There are different schemes available that allow you to self-exclude – this website can help you to put the restrictions in place that you need
  • Think about triggers and reduce your exposure to them. Avoid driving past a betting shop or casino that you used to go to; avoid behaviours that used to lead to you gambling like drinking; don’t spend time with people who you used to gamble with previously; and try to minimise your media use particularly in the run up to triggering events, like sports games
  • Limit your access to money as this will put a barrier between you and gambling when you do get an urge. Make sure that your money and cards are out of reach. You may want to give them to someone else you trust to hold onto
  • Prepare a list of distractions that you can easily turn to when you get an urge to gamble. Try to include healthy, feel-good and stimulating activities or hobbies that will give you a sense of achievement or competition, so that you get a good hit of adrenaline, similar to what you may have got from gambling before
  • Keep to a strict daily routine so that you stay busy, which in turn can stop you from thinking about or engaging in gambling. Sitting around bored or with nothing to do can increase your temptation to gamble, which is something that you should work hard to avoid
  • Keep a daily journal where you write down when you experienced an urge and what did or didn’t work to help stop your desire to gamble. Overtime, this journal will help you to gain insight into the triggers and reasons for your gambling, and learn what activities and distractions are most effective in helping you move past your urges

Joining a support group for people with gambling addictions

Joining a support group like Gamblers Anonymous gives you the opportunity to spend time with people who have had similar experiences to you.

During the sessions, you have the chance to talk about your week, reflect on your past experiences and share stories with the group. You will get compassion and support from others who have walked a similar path, ideas for your own recovery as well as help if and when you need it.

Keeping yourself healthy

If you are looking at how to stop a gambling addiction, it is important to recognise that this will require a lot of dedication and strength.

Maintaining your physical and emotional health at this time will make sure that you have the resilience to do this. It is important that you are sleeping well, exercising, eating regularly and healthily, relaxing and spending time with other people. By making sure your batteries are full, you will be in a better place to work on stopping your gambling addiction.

Seeking professional rehabilitative support

For many people, they don’t feel that they can stop their gambling addiction on their own. If you have tried but haven’t been able to stop, don’t be disheartened. There is professional support available to help you tackle the problem.

At Priory Group, our rehabilitation facilities provide support for a wide range of addictions, including gambling. The treatment that we provide can be given on a residential basis, as well as through our day and outpatient programmes. With the help of our team of therapists and addiction experts, you have the opportunity to achieve the following:

  • An understanding of the impact that gambling has had on your life as well as on the lives of those you are close to
  • Recognition of your triggers and the reasons behind your gambling addiction
  • The development of healthy coping strategies to support you on your recovery journey
  • Support and education for your family
  • Sessions with your family to help you re-establish family relationships
  • Support with getting in contact with relevant agencies to rationalise or manage financial debts

Group and one-to-one therapy sessions are used to help people achieve these steps, along with seminars, workshops and individual working time.

People who undertake our residential Addiction Treatment Programme also have access to our aftercare programme, where you continue receiving support from our experts and your peers as you start out in early recovery.

Blog reviewed by Kathryn Dombrowicz, Addiction Therapy Services Manager at Priory Hospital Roehampton

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