TAKE THE FIRST STEP TO RECOVER FROM ONLINE GAMBLING ADDICTION
In this article we go through the most common signs of a gambling problem, and what you can do to take action to combat your gambling problem so you can have a better life, healthier relationships, more control of your finances, less stress and anxiety about the consequences of your addiction, and also help tackle the underlying emotions driving your online gambling behavior.
Many nice things come with a risk of addiction. Wine, tobacco, food, shopping – the list goes on and on. Gambling is another such thing, and since the Internet itself has addictive powers, online gambling is a killer in this area. With the rise of online casinos, if you know you have a gambling problem you have to take immediate action to stop yourself from the temptation that is found so easily every time you open your web browser.
You probably know if you have an addictive nature if you tend to overdo things you like. If you eat more than you should, if you wake up after shopping sprees feeling sick with regrets, if wine bottles seem to come in ever smaller sizes, you probably need to pay attention.
IDENTIFY IF YOU HAVE A GAMBLING PROBLEM
There are a number of behaviors that can reveal a gambling addiction. Read through the list and see how many of them fit your description. If you check several of these points, you may have a real problem. It’s best to be honest about this. At least to yourself.
Check how many of those behaviors you recognize in yourself. You:
• Spend more money on gambling than you had planned.
• Are easily annoyed if something disturbs you while gambling.
• Chase your losses, trying to win back money that you’ve lost.
• Lose your sense of time and stay in the game longer than planned.
• Don’t tell the truth to people that are close to you.
• Don’t quit when you’re up, but continue gambling until the money is gone.
• Have a strong belief that you will make big wins.
• Think that you lose because you didn’t play well enough.
• Spend more and more time gambling and thinking about gambling.
• Need to play higher to get the same excitement.
• Spend more on gambling than you let your friends know.
• Choose gaming before family, friends or work.
DENIAL IS HALF THE PROBLEM
Developing a gambling problem is no active choice. Addiction is sub-conscious; we cannot touch it directly using our will powers. Just wanting to gamble less probably won’t be enough. Only if you admit that there’s a problem, you might find the resources to really deal with it. Try saying it out loud for yourself. “I have a gambling problem.” See how it makes you feel. But feel proud of the fact you made it onto this page to learn how to identify if you have an issue, and also how to fix problem gambling habits.
WHAT CAN YOU DO TO CONTROL YOUR ONLINE GAMBLING PROBLEM?
There are certain steps you can take to control your gambling habits. Go through them to assess if you think it is something you can do on your own, if not please go straight to the ‘Ask for Help’ section below.
1) Get rid of your toxic shame around your problem. Shame is a debilitating emotion which can stop many people from actually taking the steps to get themselves out of their situation. Call your local therapist, and start to learn about handling this strong emotion. It helps to have a safe person in your life who you can talk to about the issue to keep you accountable throughout recovery.
2) Casinos and poker rooms on the internet often let you set spending limits for your gambling. You can tell the sites to block your user account to prevent you from falling for the temptation in a moment of weakness.
3) If you are unable to stop yourself from thinking about gambling even when your account is blocked, or you simply look for other sites to sign up to, you need to take action to control what is funding your online casino accounts. Step 3 is to get rid of your credit cards, close your preferred payment option account, and/or allow your safe person to manage your finances until you are able to do so without spending money on online gambling.
4) Find out which moods or events lead you to online gambling. Is it boredom? Anxiety? Sadness? Rejection? Find a replacement activity you enjoy, and whenever you start feeling your trigger emotions again do your replacement activity.
5) If the first four steps have not worked for you and you can’t control your problem, you need to ask someone else for help through this progress.
ASK FOR HELP
If you think your problem is significant enough that you can’t control it on your own, there are many different groups and organizations to reach out to help you through this difficult process of controlling your gambling problem so it doesn’t ruin your life.
Always remember that you’re not alone.
There are people who understand where you’re at and who can actually help. For example, you can find a group of Gamblers Anonymous not far from the place you live. Pick up the phone and have a short chat. It could change your life.
Seeing as you made it to this page, you should be proud that you have taken the first step in acknowledging you have a gambling problem. Next, you need to make the move to call one of the numbers below and start gaining control over your life. Remember that there is no shame in having a problem and asking for help, in fact, it’s the kindest action you can take for yourself and for those around you to get professional help.
Below is a list of people who know what they’re talking about and who can help you recover from your addiction:
• National Council on Problem Gambling (Canada)
• UK GamCare
• Gamblers Anonymous
• Helping Hand/ IGC
Playing games is nice, but don’t play games with your well-being and the well-being of those closest to you who are also harmed by your problem. You have the ability to take control of your life and form a better future for yourself.