Helping a Loved One With a Gambling Addiction

Gambling involves putting something of value on a random event with the hope of winning something else of value. It can involve placing a bet on sports events, lottery games, cards or casino games, scratch-off tickets, online gambling and video poker. Whether you’re playing at a casino, betting on the horse races or placing a bet with your friends over dinner, gambling can turn into an unhealthy obsession that strains relationships, interferes with work or causes financial disaster.

There are many things you can do to help a loved one with gambling addiction, including educating yourself about the disorder and offering support without judgement. It’s also important to address any underlying mood disorders that may be contributing to the problem. Depression and anxiety are both linked to compulsive gambling, so it’s important to seek treatment for these conditions as well.

Talking to a therapist can be an effective way to treat a gambling addiction. There are a number of types of therapy, including psychodynamic therapy, which examines how unconscious processes influence behavior, and group therapy, where people describe their problems and offer moral support. There are also many cognitive behavioral therapies that teach you to identify and change unhealthy emotions and thoughts, such as mindfulness meditation, yoga and deep breathing exercises.

The most important step in treating a gambling addiction is admitting that you have one. This can be a difficult thing to do, especially if you’ve lost significant amounts of money or have strained or broken relationships as a result of your habit. But it’s important to remember that other people have successfully overcome gambling problems, and you can too.

It’s essential to avoid triggers, which include places where you’ve gambled in the past or are surrounded by people who gamble. If your commute to and from work passes a casino, try taking an alternate route or changing the channel when you watch sports. Staying away from these triggers can help you manage your cravings and prevent relapse.

Another helpful strategy is to replace problem gambling with stimulating activities that will occupy your mind and give you the same feeling of reward. This might mean rekindling a hobby or trying something new, like exercise, eating healthy meals or meditating. Keeping your mind busy can help you focus on other priorities and reduce stress, which can trigger gambling cravings.

Lastly, it’s important to only gamble with disposable income and never use money that you need for other expenses. You can also limit your spending by avoiding casinos and other gambling-related sites, carrying less cash with you and deleting gaming apps from your devices. If you’re living with a person with a gambling addiction, it’s a good idea to discuss how you will handle family finances and credit so that you are both protected from high-risk situations. It’s also a good idea to seek out inpatient or residential treatment programs for severe cases of gambling addiction that require round-the-clock care.

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