Gambling addiction is often called “the silent killer,” but there is good news – help is on the way and it’s easier to quit or at least manage your addiction these days than it has ever been in the past.
Gone is the stigma surrounding being a gambling addict and the condition has been recognized as a legitimate health issue. “How do I stop the urge to gamble” is the first and right question you should ask yourself in order to tackle the problem.
Here, we will list our top 10 tips on how to stop gambling and save money in the process. If you find yourself asking “why can’t I stop gambling” you are not alone.
We understand the process is difficult and requires a constant conscious effort, but the good news is that you are not alone. There are many reasons to stop gambling, and we are happy to help you achieve this at your own pace.
#1 Admit You Have a Gambling Problem
The first step to recovery is admitting that you have a problem. It’s a painfully dull and clichéd confession, but it’s one that is abundantly true. Many people end up stacking hundreds of thousands of dollars of debt, start stealing, or worse, in order to get the money, they need to continue gambling.
This is why it’s paramount to admit that you have a problem and identify yourself as a “gambling addict.” The American Psychiatric Association – which was one of the first to recognize the issue as a medical condition – has issued some guidelines on how you can tell that you have a problem gambling problem. Here is a shortlist:
- You feel the compulsive urge to gamble
- Social obligations are often neglected in favor of gambling
- You grow irritable or anxious if you are not gambling
- Gambling “helps you” to manage your stress levels
- You have lied to friends and colleagues to continue gambling
- Your finances have been adversely impacted because of gambling
- All your free time is preoccupied with gambling
- Have struggled with quitting gambling many times now
- You are often “chasing your losses” to break even
- Your relationships have suffered as a result
While some of these seem a little arbitrary, they are very good indicators of whether you are developing a problem. The more criteria you meet, the bigger the chance of you being a gambling addict is.
Once you admit that you have a problem, it’s time to seek help, not just family intervention or a promise to quit – professional help.
#2 Remember That Gambling Addiction Can Be Cured
In the past, gambling addiction would be associated with down-on-their-luck no-goods who would waste their money and time. However, today we all know that gambling addiction can be cured, or at the very least -managed.
This means that there is no reason for you not to seek help when you need it. Acknowledging that you have a problem is your way out. But why seek professional help? We now have research that offers proof that we can quit gambling addiction only if we have a controlled environment.
While the therapies that gambling addicts are put through are never invasive, they are extremely helpful. Most of them are based on the idea that your “passion” for gambling can be channeled in a new, more constructive direction.
Addicts do not get fully well throughout their entire lifetime, but with consistent oversight, self-restraint, and even at the cost of small relapses, addiction can be treated, and eventually minimized or completely remedied. So, the answer to the question of can gambling addiction be cured is a resounding yes!
Seek gambling addiction treatment in your area and know that the money you would potentially spend on a good clinic will be worth it and you will walk away from a changed person.
#3 Do Not Quit Gambling Cold Turkey
Many people out there looking for ways how to quit gambling cold turkey. This is seldom a good idea. Altering behavior on a whim is a very hard thing to do and most people who do not have the power will go through with it. So, in order to stop gambling and save money you need to understand that it won’t happen overnight.
Rather, it will be a long process that will require you to stick to a treatment plan, reach out for help to friends and family – who can be an important part of your long-term recovery – and generally remind yourself that you being an addict is not a shameful thing.
There is a physiological justification for why some people are addicts. While this would not excuse you from not taking any action to remedy the situation or even turning to crime to fix your life, it will surely provide you with resources, help, and emotional support to overcome the issue.
#4 Use an App to Stop Gambling
The power of modernity is at your fingertips and using a stop gambling app could help you not only stop gambling but also get better and even help others. Such gambling apps are proving to be useful and they may help you monitor and exclude yourself from gambling.
Depending on where you are, you will definitely benefit from using dedicated software that will communicate with licensed operators that you are at risk of excessive gambling spending, and therefore not permitted to access gambling – or even not gamble beyond a certain limit.
There are some excellent solutions that will work here, such as the Gambling Therapy app available on Google Play and Apple Store. The use of such apps is still in its nascence as consumers are only now becoming aware that they can use them to monitor and even improve their gambling behavior.
Such apps usually provide you with tools to set limits, both financially and in terms of time, and benefit from more balanced gambling overall.
#5 Remind Yourself that Gamblers Change
Having a negative association with gamblers is what pushes many people into unnecessarily long struggles with their addictions. The lack of stigma today helps those who need help to receive it in a timely manner.
Still, some old-fashioned notions that gamblers are not to be blamed or that they never change are undermining progress for some people. That is why it’s important to enforce the positive sentiment that gamblers can change.
While we acknowledge that the compulsion to do things excessively is difficult to overcome, there are still many good examples that demonstrate how gambling addiction can be controlled and how gamblers can, over time and with the right help, change for the better.
#6 Assume Responsibility for Your Actions
Gambling addiction will always put us in a situation where we acknowledge we have done wrong but still think abstractly about our own involvement. Of course, gamblers are compelled to act the way they do – particularly those who are addicts among us. However, this should not exonerate us from assuming responsibility for our own actions.
Did we turn to crime to fuel our hobby? Why did we do so? Are we strong enough to admit wrongdoing and that our behavior was wrong no matter what the motivation behind it is? Those are important parts of tackling the problem and while it will take a while to adjust and a conscious effort to admit this to yourself, it’s a healthy thing to do.
People are by nature defensive and often seek to excuse and project their own mistakes onto others. Like gambling addicts, we are no different, if not even worse. However, our mistakes can quickly turn too costly, and this is why we need to act on time and nip them in the bud if and when possible – admitting fault is a good way to start.
#7 Read Gambling Addiction Stories on Reddit
There are many reasons to quit gambling addiction. But if you really want to quit, you need to see what others have gone through and are doing. There are many stories on how to quit gambling on Reddit, and you can read through those personal anonymous testimonies and see if that will inspire you to fight the issue yourself.
Of course, simply reading about someone else’s gambling addiction is not a way to tackle your own problem, but it’s definitely a good way to see that there are people just like yourself who come from various backgrounds and they go through the same challenging emotional turbulences you do.
#8 Get Help Online If You Can’t Afford Clinic
Many people fear that gambling addiction treatment may be too expensive. There is no obligation to visit a treatment center to quit gambling and save money in the process. There are many free online resources that will help you start working on your problem.
Organizations such as the National Council on Problem Gambling and Gamblers Anonymous are trusted and reliable organizations that will get you help. While some issues with their funding remain, there are many opportunities to take advantage to ensure that you are coping with the problem.
Seeking help is an efficient and proven way to start working on your gambling addiction. Inspiration stories by others and trusted existing resources are the way to go.
#9 Find a Hobby and Pour Your Passion into It
It’s not entirely accurate to say that your gambling addiction is just a hobby. There is a well-documented physiological response that happens in your brain when you win or even lose money. Endorphin is released and elation is felt. It’s a powerful emotion that quickly can become an addiction.
Hobbies are fairly similar. They are pleasurable activities that “take your mind off things” but also generate endorphin. This is what makes them a great outlet and a way to relax. Of course, gambling is also a form of entertainment but it has its downsides as well. It can get you in financial trouble.
While nothing is good when done in excess, you will surely be able to consider a few alternatives to your gambling pastime. Once again, remember that in some cases, it will be very hard to make this switch on your own, and seeking professional help might be best.
#10 Don’t Go Cold Turkey, But Limit Temptation
It’s true that living in a “safe environment” will definitely help. There are many lawmakers out there who are right now pushing for the right set of regulatory changes to ensure that you are not exposed to gambling ads unnecessarily. There is a proven link between how many ads you see and how inclined you are to gamble, so it’s good to avoid temptation.
For starters, though, you can restrict your own exposure. Google now allows you to actually opt out of seeing gambling and alcohol ads on YouTube, which is just one of the ways to control your gambling. National self-exclusion programs also do exist such as GamStop in the United Kingdom, for example. Exclusion is done on a state-by-state basis in the United States, though.