How to Overcome Gambling Urges

Gambling is a risky behavior where someone puts something of value (money, property or time) on an event with the hope of winning more than they spend. It is a type of addiction that can cause financial, social and psychological problems. Often, gambling is accompanied by other addictive behaviors, such as substance use disorders.

When people gamble, the brain releases dopamine, a neurotransmitter that gives us a rush of excitement and pleasure. This is why it’s so difficult to quit, especially when you’re losing. However, there are many ways to help manage gambling urges, such as avoiding triggers like people or places that encourage your behavior, setting time limits, and practicing healthy coping strategies.

The first step to overcome gambling urges is to acknowledge that you have a problem. You might find it helpful to write down your thoughts, feelings and triggers in a journal. This will give you a better understanding of what causes your urges to gamble and how to stop them from happening in the future. You may also benefit from finding a support group where you can talk about your struggles with others who have the same issues in a nonjudgmental, confidential environment.

Another important step is to set limits on how much money you want to spend and how long you will play. Leaving the casino when you hit your limit will help you stay in control and keep your spending under control. Practicing this self-control will help you avoid impulsive gambling decisions that could lead to more losses.

It’s also a good idea to only gamble with cash, rather than credit cards or other forms of electronic payment. This way, you can’t be tempted to use your debit card to cover your losses or make up for previous gambling sessions. Also, if you are traveling and are surrounded by casinos, make sure to remove your credit cards from your wallet or leave them at home.

In addition to setting financial boundaries, you can take steps to protect your finances by putting someone else in charge of your money, closing online betting accounts, and keeping only a small amount of cash on you when you leave the house. You can also practice other healthy coping mechanisms, such as exercising, writing in a journal, or listing things you’re grateful for, to reduce negative thinking patterns and boost positive emotions.

If you’re struggling with a gambling disorder, it’s critical to seek professional treatment before the problem gets worse. At Gateway Foundation, we offer a variety of evidence-based treatments to help people with addictions to gambling, including cognitive behavioral therapy and dialectical behavior therapy. Our therapists can also teach you how to practice healthier coping skills and address any other issues you might be dealing with, such as depression or anxiety. For those with severe gambling problems, inpatient and residential treatment programs may be necessary to help you break the cycle of gambling addiction. These services can provide round-the-clock care and support you in your recovery journey.

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