Starting an article with a caveat is never how I like to start, however, this time I believe that I must.
I am not a qualified psychiatrist or counselor. I am purely talking from my own experiences as an Ex-Gambling Addict.
If you are in need of help and/or know someone who you are worried about, always consult with the professionals.
In the UK, I have said it before and I will say it again, speak to GAMCARE, they really helped me through my journey.
Why does a Gambling Addict do it?
As I’m sure is the case with any addiction, people do not CHOOSE to get addicted.
Ordinarily, an addiction starts out with a harmless action with absolutely no intention of hurting either themselves or anyone else.
The problem arises when this harmless action becomes something that you are thinking about all of the time.
Everything can start to suffer, from relationships to work, even your own health.
That might sound pretty obvious to some of you, however, I’m not necessarily talking about a class A drug addiction.
What about alcohol, smoking, gambling, sex?
Almost anything you can think of can turn in to an addiction.
Most of us take these activities as what they are and what they should be, something to be enjoyed.
Unfortunately, that is not always an option and some people will become addicted, through no fault of their own.
Do they not realize that it hurts others?
Of course, they do. The fact that their addiction can hurt others is not lost on a gambling addict, however, that doesn’t put a stop to it.
Speaking from my own experiences (you can find my other articles on my story here and here), I was fully aware of how much it hurt my Fiancee, I knew the consequences if I carried on but I did it anyway.
Did this mean that I just didn’t care? NO not at all.
The issue is that personally at least, I found ways of justifying it to myself.
It will be ok this time. I can just have a little gamble and she’ll never know.
What she doesn’t know won’t hurt her.Me during my bad days.
Looking back, that was frankly just stupid and definitely not worth the risk.
The problem is that when you’re in that mind frame it’s very hard to think clearly, and, as easy as it is to say now, at the time it all made sense.
If you are a suffering Gambling addict, know that this is common but more importantly, be aware of it.
Knowing that this is something that will come into your head, and being aware that you will do everything you can to justify it to yourself will hopefully enable you to avoid making the same mistakes I did.
If you’re not an addict but are concerned that someone you know is, then please just bare this in mind.
It can be so tough on the friends and family of addicts and they often get ignored. Not this time.
Just know that what they are doing is nothing personal, they have an issue and are not doing it to spite you.
Can you ever really get over a Gambling Addiction?
My opinion, yes, but with a small caveat.
I honestly do believe you can “get over” a gambling addiction, much like any other addiction, it just takes time.
One of the most important things required, in order to get out and beat any addiction, is wanting to.
The first thing any addict (but I will concentrate on a gambling addict) needs to do is to accept that they have a problem.
This, in itself, can be one of the hardest things to do and if you know an addict, telling them that they have a problem IS NOT going to help.
Unfortunately, this is something that they need to realize themselves.
What can you put in place?
There are a number of things that a gambling addict can put in place to help.
The first thing is to identify what the issue is.
What are you addicted to?
Are you addicted to:
- Horse racing
- Sports betting
- Online casinos
- Slot machines
- etc etc
Once you have identified the culprit, you can start looking into ways to avoid it.
What measures can you put in place to avoid it?
This could be as simple as avoiding the betting shop if you have a problem with horse racing or sports betting.
The issue with this and one of the things that makes a Gambling Addiction so hard to get over is that, with the internet, it is so easy to gamble online.
A little, harmless deposit can very quickly turn into either multiple little deposits or larger and larger ones.
It’s great that the online bookmakers put controls on their sites to help you limit how much you are spending, the problem is that you need to set them up yourself.
If they are already in place, they’re not exactly hard to get around.
As such, look for more extreme ways of avoiding it.
I mentioned earlier, my problem was with online slots so access to online casinos was a massive issue for me.
I took the option of just stopping access to all online gambling sites.
If you are interested in this option, check out the article on Gamcare covering blocking software.
Changing your route to work.
If your problem is based more on physical locations, like betting shops or casinos then try changing your routes.
Do you go past the betting shop every day? maybe look at changing your routine and take a different way to work.
Is the casino part of a night out for you?
Look at changing where you go and maybe even who you go with.
The wrong crowd?
We don’t always want to see it, but are your friends a heavy influence on your gambling?
If you spend a lot of time with other gamblers, it is going to make it almost impossible for you to quit.
This is not to say you have to ditch your friends and find a new crowd, just limit the amount of time you spend with them, especially in that setting.
Explain to them that you are cutting down/quitting gambling and you don’t want to go to the casino or the betting shop etc. If they are really good friends they will understand and find other ways to spend time with you.
Check with your bank to see if they can block all transactions associated with gambling.
As of the end of 2018, many banks can now implement blocks against various types of transactions when carried out on a mobile device.
If you use cash, then speak to the establishment you go to, they may and indeed should be able to at least give you a temporary ban to help.
Where can I/they go for help?
If you are struggling, the first thing you need to do is to speak to someone.
As I’ve previously mentioned. I spoke to GAMCARE.
Just speak to someone, get everything off your chest and see what they can do to help.
If you do not want to speak to them, then there is a wealth of other resources you can use or people to speak to.
I will list a few below:
These are to name just a few, but again now that help is available.
Dealing with a gambling addiction is tough, make no mistake.
I am living proof that you can be one of the worst gambling addicts around but if you want to get free of it, you can.
Build up to it and speak to your loved ones, having them onside to help really makes a difference.
Know that you are not the only one going through this right now. If you get the chance to speak to fellow addicts then do it, it can be a real eye-opener and help you deal with your own addiction.
Lastly, but by no means least.
Just remember that it’s worth it.
At times you will no doubt get that feeling of “what’s the point”, or you will try to justify gambling to yourself.
That’s the addiction talking.
What you’re doing, stopping, it’s hard but don’t give up. Once you’re free of it and you start seeing the difference in both yourself and your finances, you’ll be annoyed with yourself that you didn’t do it sooner.
Please get in touch if you want to chat. I’m always free to help a fellow addict and if I can even just point you in the right direction then I will.
All the best in your journey, I know you’ll get there.