How to Overcome a Gambling Addiction


A gambling addiction can strain relationships, interfere with work and other activities, and lead to financial disaster. It can also make it hard to stop, and may cause people to do things they wouldn’t normally do, like stealing money to gamble or taking out loans they can’t afford to pay back. A problem with gambling can be very difficult to overcome, but there are treatment and recovery options.

There is no single form of gambling that is more likely to be addictive than others. Almost any activity that involves betting on a random event where skill does not affect the outcome can be considered gambling. This includes activities such as lottery play, horse races, and card games in which players can learn strategies that can improve their chances of winning. However, a bettor’s knowledge of game strategy and the abilities of horses and jockeys can only reduce, not eliminate, the uncertainty associated with the outcome of the wager (Bruce and Johnson, 1996).

Psychiatric researchers have established ten criteria for pathological gambling, including the ability to recognize when one is about to bet more than they can afford to lose, preoccupation with the activity, and the use of it as a way to escape from problems. These criteria were developed based on clinical observation, research, and interviews with persons with gambling disorders.

Avoid chasing your losses. This means only using money that you have allotted for gambling and never putting more than your allotted amount into a slot machine or a table game. Also, try to find healthier ways to relieve unpleasant feelings. For example, spend more time with friends who don’t gamble or try other social activities, such as volunteering for a worthy cause or exercising.