How to Treat a Gambling Addiction

Gambling addiction is a complex illness with many causes. It can cause serious financial and personal problems for the sufferer, including strained or broken relationships. If you or someone you know has a gambling problem, it’s important to seek treatment right away.

The first step to treating a gambling addiction is acknowledging that you have one. It can be difficult to admit that you have a problem, especially if you’ve lost money or caused problems for others. However, it’s the best way to get help for your addiction.

It’s also essential to avoid gambling environments and people who gamble, if possible. The more you’re surrounded by the temptation to gamble, the harder it will be to quit.

Seek professional counseling to learn effective coping mechanisms. Your counselor may recommend a variety of different treatment methods, including psychotherapy and medication. Medications can ease symptoms of depression or anxiety that sometimes co-occur with gambling disorder.

Cognitive-behavioral therapy can teach you to control your impulses. You can learn to stop thinking about past losses or future wins, which can trigger a craving for gambling. You can also learn to challenge irrational beliefs, like the belief that a single loss is just part of a streak or that a near miss (two out of three cherries on a slot machine) will lead to a big win. You can also practice mindfulness, which helps you focus on each day and reduces stress. This is especially helpful if your compulsion to gamble is triggered by boredom or negative emotions.