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How to Quit Gambling

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This page is written by
Arnold Hurt
Arnold HurtResponsible Gambling & Local Industry Expert
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Ilse Lotz
Ilse LotzHead of Editorial
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If you're a compulsive gambler, you can't control the impulse to gamble, even when it has negative consequences for you or your loved ones. You'll gamble less if you can identify the triggers that lead to the urge. These triggers can be anything from seeing a casino to hearing a certain song, to even just feeling bored. Taking note of these triggers can help you avoid them and reduce the likelihood of developing a gambling addiction. 

What are gambling addictions and how to spot a gambling problem?

Gambling problems can happen to anyone. In fact, gambling addiction is one of the most common forms of addiction, and it can be incredibly damaging and difficult to overcome. Gambling addiction is characterized by a compulsive need to gamble, even when the person knows that it is causing them financial trouble. 

how to quit gambling

What begins as an entertaining activity can quickly transform into a compulsive habit with consequences. Whether you bet on sports, scratch cards, roulette, poker, or slots—in a casino, at the track, or online—a gambling problem can seriously affect your relationships, interfere with work, and lead to financial disaster.  It can start out innocently enough, with a few bets here and there, but it can quickly spiral out of control. Before you know it, you may find yourself betting more money than you can afford to lose.

To overcome your gambling problems, you'll also need to address some of the potential underlying issues like stress. Stress can be a major factor in gambling addiction, as it can lead to impulsive behavior and a lack of self-control. It can also lead to a feeling of hopelessness and a lack of motivation to make changes.

Although it may seem tough to control gambling urges, it is important to remember that achieving control is actually possible.  Minor steps can help you gradually distance yourself from gambling urges. Understanding the motivations behind your gambling habits is critical, as it can help in identifying what drives you to gamble and how to circumvent it.

Gambling addiction signs and symptoms

Gambling addiction is sometimes referred to as a “hidden illness” because there are no obvious physical signs or symptoms like there are in drug or alcohol addiction. Problem gamblers also typically deny or minimize the problem—even to themselves.

However, you may have a gambling problem if you find yourself feeling restless or irritable when you try to cut down or stop gambling, have difficulty controlling your gambling, gamble even when you don't have the money to do so, lie to family or friends about your gambling, rely on others to bail you out of financial trouble. Gambling can be a slippery slope, and it's important to be aware of the potential consequences. 

When you start gambling, it can be difficult to stop, and it can be easy to get in over your head. Gambling can be a fun and exciting activity, but it is important to remember that it can also be addictive. When people start to gamble, they may feel an adrenaline rush that can be difficult to resist. 

This rush can lead to people gambling more, and more frequently than they had originally intended. This can be especially dangerous in the case of online gambling, where it is easy to become overwhelmed and lose track of time and money spent. The thrill of gambling can be alluring, as it offers the potential of a big payout with minimal effort. Unfortunately, this potential for a big payout can quickly become an addiction, as people become entranced by the adrenaline rush of gambling and the potential of a big win.

1. Self-help for gambling problems

The biggest step to overcoming a gambling addiction is realizing that you have a problem. It takes tremendous strength and courage to own up to this. The financial losses can be devastating, leaving you feeling like you are in a deep hole that you can never climb out of. The emotional toll can be equally as damaging, leaving you feeling isolated and alone. You may be dealing with feelings of guilt. Don't despair, and don't try to go it alone. Others have been in your shoes and have been able to break the habit and rebuild their lives. You can, too. It may seem like an insurmountable task, but with the right attitude and the right support, it is possible. It's important to remember that you are not alone on this journey. There are people who have gone through the same struggles and thrived. 

2. How to stop gambling for good

For many problem gamblers, it's not quitting gambling that's the biggest challenge, but rather staying in recovery—making a permanent commitment to stay away from gambling.  Gambling has become more accessible due to the Internet, increasing the difficulty of recovering addicts to remain abstinent. Online gambling venues are available nonstop to anyone with a smartphone or computer. Nevertheless, recovering from any gambling addiction or struggle can be obtained if one has reliable people to be accountable to, stays away from places that could provoke the craving to gamble, has someone else handling the finances (initially), and finds other activities to take the place of the gambling pastime.

3. How to help someone stop gambling

You may experience diverse and conflicting sensations if a person you love has a gambling addiction. You could be boiling with rage that they have started gambling again, while also feeling drained from concealing the truth. Money from illegal sources or your own might have been taken and family possessions sold, or large amounts of money accrued on shared credit cards. This can be a difficult situation for any family to face, especially if the individual responsible for the debt is no longer part of the family. In some cases, the debt may be so large that it is impossible to pay it off in a timely manner. Try to help them to accept a problem, get the right diagnosis, and get the treatment that will alter their ways of life and speed up recovery.  

It is important for individuals to seek medical advice if they are experiencing any symptoms that are out of the ordinary. It is also important to be honest with the doctor about any symptoms that may be experienced, no matter how minor they may seem. This will increase the odds of success in attempts to quit gambling. 

4. Staying away From Gambling

Remember urges do not usually last longer than one hour.  It is important to remember that gambling is not a reliable way to make money, and can often lead to financial ruin. If you feel the urge to gamble, it is important to take steps to resist it. One way to do this is to distract yourself with a hobby you will enjoy. 

Once you have decided to delay the decision to gamble, shift your attention to what you might like to do. It might be something you used to love doing before gambling became a problem or something you've always wanted to try. New hobbies are a great way to get out of a rut and open up new possibilities. They can also help to reduce stress, increase creativity, and provide a sense of accomplishment. 

Gambling can be very addictive, don't forget to have fun playing at online casinos, but in a responsible way.  If you or your loved one have the described issue, contact the helpline or group of gamblers anonymously. Helpline: 0800 006 008


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Arnold Hurt

Responsible Gambling & Local Industry Expert

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Arnold Hurt is PlayCasino's Responsible Gambling & Local Industry Expert, with over a decade of experience in South Africa's online casino scene. A veteran gambler himself, Arnold understands the allure ...continue reading

Local Industry Expert
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Fact-checked by: Ilse Lotz

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