Gambling Recovery: How to start the journey today

May 31, 2024

Recovering from Gambling Addiction can be a long and winding road, but thankfully, there are resources available to help and treat problem gambling. This article explores these resources, how to take the first step on the road to recovery, and the necessary process and tools to reach your goals. 

Growth of gambling in the United States

With state-run lotteries included, 48 states allow some form of gambling. Since the repeal of the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) in May 2018, which allowed states to dictate the legality of sports betting, 38 states and Washington, D.C. now permit retail sports betting, with 29 offering online sports betting.

Sports betting, casino games, daily fantasy sports contests and lotteries are now readily accessible with just a few clicks on a smartphone. Online sports betting has significantly contributed to the rapid growth of gambling over the past several years. Projected revenue for online sports betting in 2024 is estimated to reach $11.87 billion, a dramatic increase from $1.86 billion in 2019, the first full year of legal online sports betting.

As major players in online sports betting continue to expand, their marketing campaigns, often featuring trusted celebrity voices, reach and influence a wide audience, encouraging increased participation.   

Signs of Problem Gambling

  1. Preoccupation with Gambling

    • An individual constantly thinks about past gambling experiences, plans the next gambling session or fantasizes about winning.

  2. Chasing Losses

    • After losing money gambling, a person may return to gamble more, believing they can win back their losses. This behavior often leads to a vicious cycle of increasing losses and desperate attempts to recover them.

  3. Lying to Conceal Gambling Activity

    • Individuals may lie to family members, friends or colleagues about their activities or the amount of money they have spent or lost.

  4. Jeopardizing Relationships and Opportunities

    • Gambling Addiction can cause individuals to neglect their duties at work, school or home. In severe cases, it can result in job loss or academic failure.

  5. Relying on Others for Financial Help

    • When gambling leads to significant financial problems, individuals may turn to family, friends or even illegal means to obtain money to cover debts or continue gambling.

These five signs are not the end-all, be-all. These are just five general signs to look out for in oneself and others. Recognizing signs early and seeking help can prevent the escalation of gambling problems.

Treatment Options for Gambling Recovery

If you or someone you know exhibits signs of Problem Gambling and desires established support groups or professional help, consider reaching out to resources such as Gamblers Anonymous, the National Council on Problem Gambling (NCPG) or professional treatment programs like Birches Health.

Gambling Recovery: Taking the first step

A common adage, “the first step in solving any problem is recognizing there is one,” perfectly applies to taking the first step in gambling recovery. Individuals vary in the time it takes to recognize and accept problematic behaviors, but once someone does admit gambling is diminishing their livelihood, whether that be through financial downturn, distressed relationships or obsessive gambling participation, they can proceed to seek the necessary support.

It can take years of denial before an individual is ready to receive help, but what matters here is that the individual wants to get better. The secret to sustained recovery is the desire and commitment to making change. 

Understanding the Process of Gambling Recovery

Once you have acknowledged the issue, the process of recovering from gambling addiction is a challenging journey that requires commitment, support and a structured approach. Here are the essential steps in the process of gambling recovery:

  1. Seeking Support

    • Recovery is often more successful with the support of others. This can include joining support groups, like Gamblers Anonymous. Support networks provide emotional backing, accountability and shared experiences that can be motivating. Once an individual participates in this form of professional help, keeping open lines of communication outside of treatment with family and friends can help gambling abstinence persist.

  2. Implement Helpful Strategies

    • Avoid Triggers: Identifying and avoiding triggers that lead to gambling is crucial. This might involve staying away from gambling venues, limiting access to online gambling sites and avoiding situations or emotions that trigger the urge to gamble. Creating a new, healthier environment can reduce the temptation to gamble.

    • Setting Realistic Goals: Setting achievable, short-term goals can provide a sense of accomplishment and motivate continued progress. These goals might include staying gambling-free for a certain period, improving relationships or achieving financial milestones. Celebrating small victories helps maintain momentum.

  3. Engaging in Professional Treatment

    • Professional treatment, like Birches Health, can offer tailored support for gambling addiction. This may include therapy (such as cognitive-behavioral therapy), medication to manage underlying mental health conditions and participation in structured treatment programs. Professional guidance ensures that recovery is comprehensive and personalized.

  4. Maintaining a Balanced Lifestyle

    • A balanced lifestyle that includes physical health, emotional well-being and social connections supports long-term recovery. Regular exercise, healthy eating, adequate sleep and maintaining relationships all contribute to overall stability and resilience against relapse.

  5. Monitoring Progress and Adjusting as Needed

    • Recovery is an ongoing process that requires continuous self-assessment and adjustment. Regularly reviewing your progress, identifying areas for improvement, and being open to modifying your approach ensures sustained recovery. It’s important to recognize that setbacks can happen, but they don’t mean failure.

  6. Committing to Aftercare

    • Complete abstinence from gambling is not required to negate a return to Problem Gambling. In fact, 90% of gambling addicts relapse – it’s part of recovery.
      Long-term commitment to staying free from Problem Gambling involves ongoing effort and vigilance. This might include continuing to attend support groups, maintaining a relationship with professional counseling and staying connected with your support network. Long-term recovery is about building a fulfilling life that doesn’t rely on gambling.

How to help someone you know with Problem Gambling Recovery

Supporting someone in gambling recovery can be challenging. Being open to conversation and offering non-judgmental support is vital. Helping with transportation to treatment, assisting with remote treatment setups, or engaging in fun activities post-treatment can make them feel comfortable and supported.

Sources:

Gambling Addiction Recovery

Online Sports Betting - North America


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