Overcome Problem Gambling

Takle Your Gambling Issue

Overcoming problem gambling isn't a walk in the park, but it's not impossible either. A multitude of techniques and support are available to ensure that one wins this tough battle. Whether you're dealing with pathological gambling, a gambling disorder, or a gambling addiction, help is available.

In this article, we'll provide in-depth insights on how to overcome problem gambling, also known as gambling disorder or addiction. We invite you to read through if you believe your gambling patterns are causing harm.

  • Self-help techniques;
  • Seeking support from friends, family, or fellow gamblers;
  • Exploring professional therapeutic approaches and how they can contribute to your recovery.

Admitting the Problem Gambling 

Facing the reality of the problem is the first and one of the most essential steps towards solving it. If you can't admit that there's a problem in the first place, it's almost impossible to escape the grip of gambling.

It seems like a no-brainer, right? How can you fix something if you don't even acknowledge that it's broken? While the logic behind this approach is simple, putting it into practice often proves to be one of the hardest aspects of overcoming a gambling problem or addiction.

If you realize that gambling has become more than a simple hobby and you wish to regain command of your life, you've taken a significant step. However, it's important to remember that there's still much work to be done.

If you suspect something is amiss with your gambling habits, we highly recommend checking our article on the diagnosis of problem gambling. It's always better to take precautions if there's even a slight chance you may have a gambling issue.

Road to Overcome Problem Gambling 

The thought of overcoming a gambling addiction might seem overwhelming. For easier mental preparation, we've compiled two models that can help visualize the process:

  • Three stages of problem gambling recovery
  • Cycle of change

Strategies to Overcome Problem Gambling

Dr. Robert L. Custer, a pioneering psychiatrist, initially described the problem gambling journey as having three parts. His model featured three stages of gambling and an equal number in recovery. Although technology has transformed the gambling industry significantly since Custer's time, these stages remain relevant.

Compulsive gambling involves the winning, losing, and desperation stages. After this, an individual sinks into a low-induced state of depression, complete with withdrawal symptoms and emotional struggles. This despair sometimes leads to criminal activities to get gambling funds, substance misuse, or even suicidal ideation.

If you find yourself in this predicament, don't lose hope. The recovery journey is completely feasible, divided into the critical, rebuild, and growth stages. Each stage varies slightly for adolescents, but the core principles apply.

Critical Stage 

The first step towards recovery begins at this stage as you reflect on your gambling habit and the repercussions it has had on your life. Recognizing and taking ownership of your actions is the key here. Fading away the influence of gambling on your life allows you to think beyond that urge to gamble.

Assessing the financial impact is another crucial aspect of this stage. Most problem gamblers find themselves dug deep in a financial mess, which demands clear planning for debt repayment, and restoring financial health.

The critical stage essentially sets the foundation for a gambling-free life.

Rebuild Stage 

Rebuilding your life is a continual process that extends beyond the first stage. This stage entails personal development, mending relationships, and restructuring your finances.

Preserving the already laid out debt repayment plan and timely bill payment forms the crux of financial recovery in this stage. Resolving any legal issues arising from your gambling habit is also essential.

Accepting oneself with all strengths and weaknesses forms a primary part of personal growth. Patience, reduced irritability, and increased self-respect are virtues you gain along this stage. Simultaneously, take up new interests and formulate future goals.

Strengthening relationships is another important aspect of this stage. Spend more time with your loved ones, which will gradually rebuild trust in these bonds.

Growth Stage 

The final growth stage arrives once you have successfully rebuilt your life. This stage facilitates further improvement and can lead to a healthier and more improved lifestyle.

This stage sees a decrease in gambling thoughts and an ability to manage life challenges without falling back on gambling-inspired behaviors.

The capacity to understand oneself and others increases due to the self-insight you gain while overcoming this addiction. This strengthens your resolve to lead an improved, gambling-free life.

Cycle of Change 

While the three-part recovery model presents a crisp visualization of the journey, it might not entirely take lapses and relapses into account, which are quite common in any recovery process.

The ‘Transtheoretical' Model, conceptualized in the late 1970s through a study of smokers trying to overcome their addiction, presents an alternative. This model suggests that changes in behavior are made gradually and cyclically rather than a sudden commitment to change.

The six stages of this model are:

  • Precontemplation –This stage defines those unaware of the negative impact of their behavior and are not prepared to change their habits in the upcoming six months.
  • Contemplation – People at this stage start contemplating their behavior and begin weighing the pros and cons of a lifestyle change but are still indecisive.
  • Determination – Also known as the Preparation stage, people here are ready for change and begin with small steps towards achieving it.
  • Action – At this stage, people have initiated a change and continue to maintain this new behavior.
  • Maintenance – Here, people have sustained the new behavior over six months and tend to prevent a relapse back to older habits.
  • Termination – This final stage is when people have firmly overcome former patterns and are confident of not relapsing. However, most people remain in the maintenance stage and never reach this point.

Even though relapses are considered in the maintenance stage, they could happen at any juncture. These setbacks might delay the recovery process, but it's important to not lose hope and keep going.

The models mentioned above have some limitations but offer an overall vision to win your battle against problem gambling. Let's move forward and explore how you can achieve this victory.

Taking Control Yourself 

Tackling problem gambling independently may seem like an appealing choice, but it's often the most challenging. It's typically tough to disclose your struggles with gambling; you might fear the repercussions of unloading this revelation onto your loved ones. But it is an integral part of the recovery process.

Remember, the support of your family, friends, or partner can significantly impact your recovery trajectory. However, if they are unaware of your struggles, they will be unable to provide help.

A strong strategy is to confide in a professional or connect with individuals who have lived through similar experiences. We will delve into these strategies further in this article, exploring what steps you can take individually. These tips can be beneficial whether you are facing your addiction alone or alongside someone else.

Reduce Your Access to Gambling 

Various responsible gambling features are provided by both digital and physical casinos, including:

  • Self-exclusion options
  • Deposit restrictions
  • Betting limits

There are also numerous universal gambling-blocking websites, software, and tools aimed at keeping you away from any gambling activities online. Though helpful, simply resorting to these tools won't vanquish your problem gambling. A determined gambler can always bypass these barriers, making it important for you to focus on other methods of overcoming your addiction.

Sometimes, more drastic measures may be required. Consider getting rid of devices that provide access to online gambling or stay out of bars and pubs that offer gambling opportunities.

Substitute Gambling With Other Activities

For habitual gamblers, gambling occupies a significant part of their lives. The lure to gamble creeps in almost intuitively when boredom strikes. Staying engaged in healthy, enriching activities can reduce this urge significantly.

Whether it’s spending more time with loved ones, pursuing a new sport or hobby, or just keeping yourself occupied, giving less space to thoughts about gambling can considerably enhance your resilience against the addiction.

Avoid Replacing One Addiction with Another

Substituting one addiction with another – whether it's alcohol, drugs, or another harmful activity – is not the solution. They will only compound your problems further. Battling a gambling addiction drains you mentally, increasing your susceptibility to other addictive behaviours. Stay on guard and explore healthier substitutes.

Realize that Gambling is Not a Money-Maker 

Chasing losses is a common symptom of gambling addiction. The dreams of winning big, recouping losses, and adding more savings might seem tantalising. However, this “big break” never materialises, and you end up spiralling deeper into financial ruin.

Understanding that gambling will not make you a fortune is crucial. Casino games always give an advantage to the house. This house edge implies that every bet placed results in losses over time.

It might seem like you gamble for the money, but it’s about feeding the addiction. Problem gamblers typically continue to gamble until they lose everything or realise they have a severe problem. The faster you understand that gambling isn't a money-making scheme, the better your recovery will be.

Combat Your Gambling Cravings

Cravings for gambling are akin to cravings for smoking among heavy smokers. Retraining your urge to gamble is essential. Utilise the following strategies:

  • Delay Gambling: Postpone gambling for a set period. Given time, you might realise the folly and stop.
  • Visualize the Aftermath: Reflect on the negative feelings that come after a loss.
  • Stay Busy and Social: Keep yourself engaged with activities and people to suppress the gambling urge.
  • Don’t Be Too Hard on Yourself: Everyone slips up. Don’t let a setback derail your progress. Learn from it and keep pushing.

Improve Your Financial Situation

Debt arising from gambling can cripple your financial security. Implement realistic measures to rectify your finances. Turn to debt management organisations for guidance during this long and challenging journey.

Carry a ‘Pocket Friend' With You

A ‘Pocket Friend' is a written list of the advantages of staying gamble-free, and the negative impact of continuing to gamble. Consulting this list when you feel the urge to gamble could reinforce your resolve. Below are a few examples of personally addressing you, as if spoken by your “Pocket Companion.”

Positive outcomes of a gambling-free life could include statements like:

  • I take pride in my newfound freedoms.
  • Relationships with loved ones are stronger and more fulfilling.
  • Life is calmer and more balanced.
  • Self-esteem has improved dramatically.
  • There is no need to hide behind lies anymore.
  • Financial stability provides peace of mind.
  • The satisfaction career achievements bring is now noticeable.
  • I have time for passions and hobbies.
  • I am becoming a positive role model for my children.
  • Making a difference in my life and the lives of others.

Negative repercussions of continued gambling could sound like:

  • Breaking the trust of loved ones could be irreversible.
  • Social stigma from gambling could lead to isolation.
  • Money troubles could worsen, causing greater stress.
  • The harmful cycle of lying could resume.
  • Deteriorating mental and physical health could follow.
  • potential loss of a spouse or family may be imminent.

Seek Other Alternatives 

The options mentioned above could be handy. However, if repeated attempts at self-recovery fall short, it might be time to explore other options. These can include reaching out to your loved ones, seeking support from fellow problem gamblers, or turning to professionals. We’ll dive deeper into those avenues in the next section.

Family and Friends Support 

Problem gambling is a challenge that doesn't just affect individuals but also spills over into their relationships with friends, family, and peers. However, these loved ones can be a lifeline in overcoming issues with gambling addiction.

Aim to dedicate quality time to spending time with friends and family. It can mend strains caused by the obsession while also offering a healthy diversion. The importance of mending these relationships promptly cannot be overemphasized. Likewise, regaining trust might be a daunting task, but support from understanding family and friends can boost the recovery process.

Whilst support from your inner circle can be pivotal, they might lack experience with problem gambling. In such cases, seeking professional help or assistance from individuals who've faced similar struggles can be advantageous.

Support groups and family therapy sessions are excellent resources for addiction support. These groups could empower your family with better understanding and strategies to expedite your recovery most healthily.

24/7 Help Lines and Live Chats 

One-on-one telephonic or live chats from your home's comfort can effectively address your problem gambling. Available round the clock, these services offer immediate help just when you need it most – during moments of weakness or a need for an understanding conversation with an expert.

The location-specific availability of these platforms, however, might vary. However, numerous free Help Lines and Live Chat services, sorted by location, are listed in our database. Speaking to experienced individuals who comprehend your ordeal can be instrumental in overcoming the addiction. Given they're often free, there's no reason not to exploit this readily available and invaluable resource.

Peer Support Networks 

Linking up with others who face similar challenges with problem gambling, or those who have beaten the addiction, can provide solace. Knowing you're not alone in this struggle is crucial as these people comprehend the intricacies of overcoming a gambling addiction. Drawing upon their insights and experiences can greatly benefit them.

Some of these individuals have already conquered the battle you're fighting. Consider their advice and coping strategies. If victory was attainable for them, it's equally possible for you.

Right now, it's normal to feel despaired and trapped in the addiction grip. However, hearing from those who've emerged victorious can increase your mental resilience and instill hope for a brighter future, free from gambling.

Gamblers Anonymous (GA) is a renowned organization that coordinates numerous backing groups for gamblers across many US cities and globally. Depending on your location, you can locate the nearest gatherings here: US meetings and international meetings. These links will guide you to the GA international website, where you can find links to your local GA websites in our problem gambling help centers database.

If GA doesn't operate in your vicinity, other organizations might be conducting independent support groups. If you don't find anything suitable, numerous other support channels are available.

Online support groups, like those managed by Gambling Therapy, provide another excellent option that is virtually accessible to anyone with internet connectivity. These groups come in different forms, ensuring you find help that suits your needs.

Gambling Therapy also runs forums supporting individuals battling gambling addictions and associated complications. If you're seeking virtual support, these forums connect you with folks who understand your struggle.

Psychotherapy and Professional Help 

Psychotherapy, or individual therapy/counseling, involves a person talking to a therapist to solve problems, enhance their quality of life, build relationships, and so forth. The counseling goals can vary, but for problem gamblers, the objectives are quite defined.

Engaging in one-on-one therapy sessions can help resolve problems that seem insurmountable on your own. Professional counseling can guide you to:

  • Comprehend the deleterious consequences of gambling.
  • Control the compulsion to gamble.
  • Admit the gambling problem has escalated.
  • Unearth and address the root causes of your gambling addiction.
  • Triumph in your battle against problem gambling.

Various psychotherapy forms exist, with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) predominantly used for gambling complications. CBT aids in detecting and analyzing connections among thoughts, feelings, beliefs, attitudes, and conduct. It challenges and rectifies the negatives, enabling you to change your gambling view, apprehend the thought process leading to problem gambling, resist the urge to gamble, cope with current challenges, and eventually overcome them.

For instance, many troubled gamblers believe they can reverse their losses with a stroke of ‘good luck'. This kind of thinking only intensifies the problem. Expert psychological help can assist in breaking down this mindset for good.

Moreover, hidden issues often instigate or amplify problem gambling. Sometimes people gamble as a distracting mechanism from other life problems. By engaging with a professional, you can uncover the root of your gambling problem and devise ways to halt the habit altogether.

Exposure therapy can also be beneficial. This technique predominantly deals with phobias but applies to gambling as well. It involves recognizing the aftermath of gambling, understanding the emotional impact of losing money, and realizing the adverse effect gambling has on your life. While it may elicit emotional discomfort, it's a vital step towards recovery if it offers help.

Gambling Rehab and In-house Treatment

Opting for a rehab or in-house treatment facility is the last resort, typically recommended for extreme cases of gambling addiction that require round-the-clock support and care.

In these facilities, there's a significant restriction on gambling activities, allowing you to concentrate on recovery without distraction. Moreover, you get to interact with professionals who specialize in dealing with individuals battling the same problem.

In a rehab environment, you also meet others grappling with similar addictions and can learn a lot from their experiences. The environment typically includes support groups, where you can share your journey, listen to others' stories, and learn from them.

If it's tough to abstain from gambling due to your daily routine or surroundings, a residential treatment facility could be an ideal choice. It provides a change in environment, and professional support, and restricts exposure to gambling, which can be beneficial even when other approaches have failed.


Regardless of what you call it, problem gambling is a tough challenge to overcome. You might attempt self-cure using the tips from this article, but please be open to seeking professional assistance or relying on your friends and family for support when needed.

But remember, if you've read this far, you've already taken a significant step towards a healthier life. The road may be long, but with the right approach and support network, you can triumph over your addiction and enjoy a gambling-free life.

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