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Want to stop gambling but don’t know how or where to begin? Tired of the never-ending cycle, and of feeling like there’s no way out? If you’re reading this, chances are that you’re worried yourself or a loved one has a problem with gambling. The good news is you’re in the right place. Help from our gambling rehab is available, and there is a much brighter and happier life on offer than the one you have been living. Recovery from gambling addiction is possible, and you can start your journey today.

What is gambling addiction?

Compulsive gambling is the uncontrollable urge to keep gambling despite the negative toll it takes on your life. It is a progressive illness which doesn’t discriminate, regardless of age, gender, sexuality or race. What might begin as a recreational activity can quickly spiral out of control, with devastating consequences for both the gambler and his or her loved ones.

It all starts out as a bit of fun, right? A social activity to enjoy with friends: a bet on a sports match or a game of poker on a Friday night. Unfortunately, as with anything, excessive engagement in the activity can lead to it becoming a more serious problem – just like with food, alcohol or drugs.  Individuals may at first enjoy the thrill of gambling and the risk versus reward element. But when that occasional indulgence becomes a mental dependence and obsession, it’s suddenly something much darker with serious consequences. As sufferers continue to engage in the gambling activity, everyone around them is negatively affected: family, friends, work colleagues and employers. Lying, stealing, fraud and embezzlement are some of the lengths that addicts will go to, in order to feed their gambling addiction.

Remember, this isn’t some kind of moral failing on the part of the addict. Sufferers have lost all control of their gambling, they have lost the power of choice. Despite harmful and negative consequences, gambling addicts are powerless over their addiction and cannot stop, no matter how much they want to or how hard they try.

Research shows that gambling activates the brain’s reward system in the same way that drugs or alcohol do. It releases a higher amount of dopamine, and as the brain becomes conditioned over time, it ends up wanting more and more of the same effect. A gambling addict will crave gambling in the same way an alcoholic craves alcohol. Whilst with gambling addiction there are no immediate physical effects, the repercussions can be just as severe. It’s also important to point out here, that gambling addiction often occurs in conjunction with substance abuse: a dual diagnosis. Both conditions will need to be treated if the person is to make a lasting recovery.

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Do I have a problem?

Gambling addiction is defined in the Diagnostic and Statistic Manual of Mental Disorders, or DSM-5, as ‘persistent and recurrent problematic gambling behaviour leading to clinically significant impairment or distress’.

To understand more about whether you or someone else may have a problem with gambling, take this short ‘Do I have a gambling problem?’ questionnaire from our website.

You can also try to answer the following questions as outlined by the NHS, to see if you have a problem. The NHS suggests that if you score a total of 8 or higher, you may be a problem gambler.

How to stop gambling

Here are a few suggestions to help you break free from the addiction cycle and start your journey of healing and recovery.

1. Admit you have a problem

The first step is often the hardest. To admit you have a problem with gambling and that you need help, such as gambling programmes or therapy, requires much courage and honesty. What’s more, denial is a defining feature of addiction, so many addicts will pretend like nothing is wrong despite all evidence to the contrary. Remember, acknowledging to yourself and to those you trust that there is a problem, is the best and bravest thing you can do for yourself.

2. Hand over control of your finances to someone else

Quite simply, you can’t gamble if you don’t have any money. It can help to hand over control of your finances to someone you trust, such as a family member or a close friend. You can arrange for them to pay your bills, manage your credit cards and limit ATM access, as well as helping you start budgeting: the point is stopping your ready access to cash. This can help you start to address your gambling problem, but is by no means a permanent solution.

3. Build a support network

As every recovering addict will tell you, building a strong support network is crucial to recovery. You cannot do this alone. Addiction is a disease of isolation, and recovery is about connecting with yourself and others. There is so much support out there for those in recovery from gambling addiction.

– Try attending a 12-step support group like Gambler’s Anonymous, patterned after Alcoholics Anonymous. This powerful self-help model has proven success for millions worldwide, whether suffering from an addiction to alcohol, drugs, sex or food. Regular attendance at meetings is encouraged, as a means of receiving identification and support. A key part of the program is to find a sponsor, a former gambler who has experience in recovery and can guide and support you on your journey.

– GamCare is a charity offering information, support, self-help resources and counselling for problem gamblers in the UK. It also runs the National Gambling helpline. If you need help you can call them on 0808 8020 133

– The National Problem Gambling Clinic is a specialist NHS clinic for problem gamblers. You can refer yourself if aged 16 or over and living in England or Wales.

Matt Smith

Matt Smith reviewed Providence Projects - 5
5 November 2017  

A very special place, with wonderful staff. 3 years on life is amazing. Thank you so much for everything you all did for me. Alcohol dependant and a chronic gambler the Provi gave me a platform to turn life around and that it has, meaningful relationships, wonderful friends and most importantly peace of mind. You told me good things would happen and they have – and continue to do so. Highly recommended… See more

4. Keep active

Research has proven that exercise is a fantastic resource in recovery from any addiction. Regular exercise releases a host of feel good endorphins, creating a natural high and keeping feelings of stress, anxiety and depression at bay. This is why we offer physical exercise classes as part of our gambling rehab programmes. There are many different forms to try, from running or swimming, to yoga, boxing or tai-chi. It’s about finding what you enjoy and getting involved!

5. Keep busy

Having a structure and routine and staying busy is essential in addiction recovery. Boredom can be a huge trigger for relapse. Anything that keeps your mind focused on an activity – whether its exercise, volunteering or simply meeting up with friends – means its less likely that you’ll battle urges or thoughts of relapse.

6. Seek professional help

If you’re suffering with a gambling addiction, it’s important to find the right kind of professional help to stop. For most people, a residential stay at a private rehab clinic is the best option. Gambling programmes include different types of therapy, which delve into dysfunctional patterns of thought and behaviour, as well as identifying the underlying psychological issues and motivations for gambling. A relapse prevention plan is also essential, to ensure the gambler can remain abstinent from gambling activity after leaving treatment. For more information on our gambling addiction treatment programme at The Providence Projects, please contact us on 0800 955 0945.

If you’re reading this and think that you or a loved one may suffer with gambling addiction, then a residential stay at an addiction treatment centre offers the best chance of a stable, long-lasting recovery. To find out more about the private gambling rehab programmes we have on offer at The Providence Projects, please contact one of our experienced team of counsellors on 0800 955 0945, or complete our quick and easy contact form. Our counsellors are equipped with the knowledge and the skills to help you make the decision that feels right for you and for your family, and we believe in offering the best rehab package for each individual. Please remember that recovery from gambling addiction is possible, help is out there, and things can get better.

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