Make no mistake about it – kicking the habit if you are a problematic gambler is anything but easy. There will always be those who assume that it is simply a case of stopping yourself from the kinds of activities you know you should be doing. But as those with genuine problems know all too well, it really isn’t quite as simple as this.
The simple fact of the matter is that a gambling addiction can be incredibly destructive and life-affecting. In advanced cases, it can be borderline impossible to do anything about the problem without professional assistance. In others however, there is always the possibility of taking proactive steps to reduce the severity of your problem, perhaps eventually walking away from it entirely.
So for those interested in making a real difference one step at a time, here’s what the leading gambling addiction counsellors on Harley Street advise:
1. Take a Break
First of all, rather than waking up and telling yourself that you will never gamble again, try to make a deal with yourself that you will instead take a 24-hour break. The reason being that in doing so, you will find it much easier to abstain from gambling for what will in your mind be a limited period of time. Not only this, but just as soon as you have demonstrated your ability to abstain for a full day, you may find it considerably easier to continue abstaining going forward.
2. Find Something Else To Do
The key to beating any kind of addiction whatsoever is to distract yourself with something more productive. Technically speaking, it can be absolutely anything across the board which means that you a) don’t have the opportunity to gamble because you are too busy and b) are not thinking about gambling because you are entertained.
3. Remember How it Feels to Lose
Rather than focusing on the high you get from gambling in general, try to focus as much time and attention as possible on your losses. Think about how much money you have lost, how terrible it feels when you lose and generally how guilty and shameful you feel when you walk away after a binge. In doing so, chances are your motivation to gamble will naturally decrease as a result.
4. Educate Yourself
The more you understand about gambling addiction and recovering from gambling addiction, the more likely you are to succeed. Try to remember that you are not the first or last person to be going through such an issue – far from it, in fact. So instead of just battling your lot blindly, try to educate yourself to the highest possible extent on the subject in general.
5. Forums and Communities
In a similar vein, it can be extremely helpful and reassuring to get yourself online and reach out to members of forums and online communities, specifically dedicated to gambling addiction. There’s much to be said about the comfort of reminding yourself that you are not alone, not to mention the incredible support and advice you can take from others going through exactly what you are going through.
6. Set A Budget
If you are looking to cut down on your gambling activities rather than quit entirely, one effective way of doing this can be to set yourself a budget. Given the fact that you may have problems with self-control, you might want to think about ensuring that when you head out to gamble at any time and in any context, you make it impossible for yourself to access any more money than you have allocated. One good way of doing this can be to put someone else in control of your money, or to gamble only with cash and never with cards.
7. Take Someone with You
In a similar vein, another extremely effective approach to cutting down on gambling is that of ensuring that you never fall into the trap of gambling alone. Left to your own devices, you may find yourself making the same mistakes you are trying desperately to avoid. However, take a close friend or family member along with you every time and chances are they will prevent you’re making the kinds of mistakes that could see you taking a huge step in the wrong direction.
8. Seek Professional Help
Last but not least, even if you do not consider yourself to currently have an advanced gambling problem, there is still no such thing as a time too soon to get in touch with the professionals. Even if it is simply for a chat to help steer you in the right direction, there is plenty of outstanding information and advice out there for the taking.