Gambling addiction is a lot more common than you may think, especially now it’s so easy to go online and place a bet on a sports event or play online bingo games.
Lots of us who may not think of ourselves as “gamblers” probably do actually gamble – through the Lotto or scratch cards, for example.
This can be just a bit of fun for most people or an outside shot at trying to win big but for some people, it can become a real problem that has significant effects on relationships, social life, work and mental health.
Why Do Gambling Problems Develop?
Gambling addiction is a form of compulsive behaviour. If you have a gambling problem, you can’t stop gambling even when the odds aren’t in your favour or you’re massively down.
Gambling problems can be linked to several health conditions including depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, ADHD that isn’t being managed well managed and substance misuse. These can often make gambling addiction worse and can also be exaggerated by it too.
Signs of a Gambling Problem
These signs can indicate that you have a gambling problem:
You’re secretive about your gambling activities and play down the extent to which you’re really gambling. These may involve things like logging onto online gambling sites in incognito windows, clearing your Internet browsing history after going on gambling sites and lying about how you’re spending money, for example.
You can’t control your urge to gamble, even when you don’t really have the money.
You don’t have the willpower or control to stop gambling.
You feel anxious, restless and irritable if you try to cut back on your gambling or stop altogether.
You’re finding that you need to spend more money on gambling to get the same buzz.
You gamble after a bad day or when you feel certain emotions
The repercussions of gambling addiction aren’t just financial so it’s not just a matter of whether you can afford to do it or not. It can also have an effect on lots of other areas of your life, including your relationships, career and well being, for example.
You may be able to tell yourself that you don’t really have a gambling problem if you don’t gamble every day but it doesn’t need to happen this regularly to have a big and very negative impact on your life.
Some problem gamblers only gamble occasionally but when they do, it has significant effects on both themselves and the people around them.
If you have lots of the classic signs of gambling addiction, you still have a problem regardless of how often you actually gamble.
Overcoming Gambling Addiction
If there are any underlying factors linked to your gambling addiction, these will need to be looked at first. If they aren’t addressed, there’s a good chance that you won’t beat gambling for good as they could trigger it again in the future.
After this, the focus will be on helping you to make healthier choices rather than falling back on gambling as a way to “cope” with emotions.
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) can help you to change behaviours that are not healthy and alter thought patterns that are fuelling your gambling habit.
Hypnotherapy can also be an effective treatment option for guiding you away from gambling.
Your hypnotherapist can tap into your unconscious mind and suggest alternative behaviours to adopt instead of gambling. When you next feel the urge to gamble, you can then turn to a more positive option as a way to cope with negative emotions that are linked to your urge to gamble.
It can also enable you to visualise scenarios that may occur if you do go ahead and gamble as a deterrent. For example, it may be suggested that you’ll lose all your money or you’ll be letting your loved ones down if you gamble, and this can be conjured up by your unconscious mind next time you gamble.
A combination of CBT and hypnotherapy can be successful in overcoming gambling addiction for good, especially once any underlying factors have been treated too.