The holidays are in full swing, and the new year is just around the corner. With all the festivities, friends and family, we can get caught up in what we need to do or get for others, but it is important to invest in ourselves as well.
Simple gifts or “treat yourself” moments are nice, but try to think long term for a minute.
What is something you want in the coming year? Something to get better at, a habit you want to fix, a goal you are trying to reach.
Invest in that – in something that will make you so much happier in the long run. Something that can be a tool for you moving forward.
Do I struggle with compulsive gambling?
Compulsive gambling can manifest itself in various ways, and there are different forms of it as well. It can often be brought on by financial stress, attempting to earn money quick.
However, a less often realization is that the emotional high when taking risks can also lead a lot of people to addiction.
Signs of a gambling problem may present itself as other types of addiction do. Being secretive about gambling, continuing when you cannot afford to, and being unable to control your habits are all signs that you may be struggling with compulsive gambling. There are also physical and emotional signs that gambling habits have become excessive.
If you are unable to recognize these within yourself and your behavior, another sign of your addiction comes when family and friends are expressing their concerns about this habit.
The important thing to understand is that no matter how the addiction came about, or how far it has gone, the person struggling has to have the sincere desire to change. Trying to kick the habit to make family members happy won’t cut it if you don’t want the change for yourself.
There are several options when it comes to treatment for gambling addiction – trying to figure out what steps to take may be overwhelming.
Smart IOP for gambling is an online gambling treatment program can ease that stress and help you break through your addiction and move forward to lasting recovery.
What is an online gambling treatment program?
Our program is the first intensive outpatient program designed to address the complex issues of gambling addiction. You can go through the program and learn from all of our gambling addiction education from your own computer, tablet or phone, in the comfort of your own home.
We also implement having a smart Sponsor – someone you choose to help you through the program, keep you accountable and creating healthy habits.
This is one big advantage to an online gambling treatment program, because as that sponsor goes through the program with you, they become a key part of your support system. They will remain so after you complete treatment.
Our treatment program can be broken down into five steps:
Choose your smart Sponsor
- Set-up smart IOP accounts and tools
Access all of our online treatment
Weekly support group meetings with your smart Sponsor
Track and verify your progress and completion
We want to help you learn and address the root cause of your gambling addiction. In doing so, we will work to treat “the whole person” and produce a successful and lasting recovery.
Our staff and program is client centered, and we truly have respect and compassion for every single person who chooses to work with us to overcome their struggles with gambling addiction.
Is online gambling treatment right for me?
With the flexibility we offer by being online, you won’t have to worry about putting your life on hold: whether you are in school or have a job, and you can still visit family and friends.
You have the ability to watch the educational videos on your own time.
As far as access to your therapist goes, we have scheduled check-ins throughout your treatment. In addition to those, if needed, we have a number available and we return calls from 8 am – 9:30 pm EST.
Your required time commitment to the program will differ depending on the number of weeks you choose for completion. You can do it in six or twelve weeks, and it will be around 14 or 8 hours a week, accordingly.
If you are curious as to insurance coverage, we can help verify that for you by filling out this form.
Our staff members are International Certified Gambling Counselors through the National Council on Problem Gambling. Our goal is to help you reach sobriety, and be able to maintain that following your program completion. We want to get you back to a happy, healthy life that you deserve.
Our online gambling treatment program is voluntary, and if you are unhappy, you can stop treatment at any time.
Still not sure? Here’s what a few of our clients have to say.
The staff is great and offer a new way to treat addiction. They work at getting to the root of the problem. – DT
I definitely felt like I left with the tools I need to achieve lasting sobriety. – EH
Feeling self-worth again is pretty sweet. – JRLearn More
Around this time of year most people are doing lots of spending. There is much planning to be made in regards to trips.
Family might be flying in from different states. For some, it may take a lot to really bring everyone together.
There are also many grocery store trips that will be made. Thanksgiving dinner is a tradition for most people. This is the season where people get together with their loved ones to carve a turkey, and create memories that will last a lifetime.
Thanksgiving is a holiday where we should set out focus on the things in which we are most appreciative of. Whether it may be our jobs, the roof over our heads, the family we have or even the good health we are in. Thanksgiving is a holiday where many people all across the world show thankfulness and kindness.
Unfortunately thanksgiving is also a time where some big companies, such as casinos use the holidays to take advantage of those who struggle with gambling addictions.
Thanksgiving is the start of the holiday season where people begin to splurge so most casinos use this as a way to entice and target people to come spend their money with them for incentives.
Although the temptation might be seemingly irresistible, the action of stepping back into the gambling lifestyle may push a problem gambler right back into a spiral of addictive behaviors.
Thankfully, we’ve included ways casinos use promotions to tempt the public, and an easy guide to focusing on the holidays to block out any triggering promotions that casinos display this season.
Incentives Casinos Use
Aside from casinos many tactics use to lure the public in (Read:http://smartiopforgambling.com/addiction/do-casinos-enable-the-pathological-gambler/), they implement more enticing prizes and winnings around the holidays in hope that more people will come and spend their cash there with them instead.
So the normal tactics in which casinos generally use are the crazy and colorful designed carpets, these are not by accident. They are all part of the plan to keep you feeling as if you are enjoying yourself. Also, all of the bright lights and the repetitive noises, these are all aesthetically pleasing for most people.
In an example casinos create a sense of arcade and playground like an adult chuck-e-cheese’s.
Around the holidays casinos have “deals” they toss out to the public these most often look like these examples listed:
- Swipe your Club Card at any kiosk from 10am – 6pm and win up to $1000 in FREEplay!
- Gold Club members must earn a minimum of 25 tier slot points to participate.
- Our casino will be giving out $15,000 in cash, gift cards and free slot play on Black Friday.
- Every hour from 4:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. Reward members will have the chance to win $300 in free slot play, plus if present, a $200 Macy’s gift card.
- At 9:00 p.m., one lucky winner will win $5,000 in cash.
- Free dinner for 2 when you win $50 at any slot machine.
- Free car to one lucky winner. Every $20 bet is a chance for you to enter. Enter as many as 200 times!!
Although, reading these most people could recognize that you would still be spending your own money in hopes to win, inside of the mind of a problem gambler, they see chances to increase their current financial position. This is Clever in the sense of marketing how well casinos prey on the weak.
They create a facade to a person who maybe has only a couple hundred and builds up the idea of them having the opportunity to double or even triple what they bet. This creates a desire for most problem gamblers, to keep going until they win big.
Unfortunately in most cases they will lose all they had to begin with before they even come to grips with the reality they have just been hustled.
Understanding that the casinos use holidays to trigger addicts and those who are in recovery with exciting gifts and deals, just might be the key to helping you stay away from dangerous relapsing situations.
Here is a small list of tips to steering clear of diving into gambling this holiday season. Hopefully by sticking to this plan you’ll only be diving into a delicious turkey dinner!
Trust Your Gut
Often times, we experience this “intuition” when we are faced with something that we are not too sure of. We get an uneasy feeling about the situation, no matter what it is. Something being said or done, or maybe just being somewhere, but then comes that sensation of “this isnt right”, and of course that’s where the saying “trust your gut” comes from.
When given a situation you do not feel confident about you should listen to that feeling and exit the situation immediately. As an addict, you are more in touch with those familiar feelings and should learn to recognize and identify when you’re in a high risk situation.
You might feel like gambling during the holidays is “harmless” because it was just this once, However, you should not engage in behaviors that have previously triggered a full blown addiction for you.
Do not go against what you are feeling if something is telling you “get out”, the n that is precisely what you must do to stay true to your successful recovery during this holiday season.
Holiday season is busy as it is, it is wise to build an itinerary for you and your loved ones. Perhaps sticking to a schedule might possibly help you distract any urges you might encounter with casinos and other gambling outlets pushing out promotions.
Having things planned will make it easier to stick to a schedule and avoid relapsing, here are some ideas of things to do during thanksgiving with family and friends:
- Black Friday shopping. Even if you are not spending much money, the excitement of waiting in line for doorbusters and rushing to the sales is memorable and quiet fun.
- Thanksgiving buffet dinner. Although not the traditional dinner, this is actually a pretty interesting take on tradition, with no kitchen time required from you or your loved ones, there is more time for you all to bond and spend quality time.
- Exploring, Depending on your area, this might be a fun option. Hiking is a great way to get exercise and get outdoors and bond with friends and family over exploring trails.
- Volunteering. Giving back is a perfect way to express thankfulness during the holidays. Serving at your local soup kitchen or homeless shelter could be a reminder of how much you have to be grateful for.
- Browse through old photo albums. reminiscing on old memories is the easiest way to reconnect and bond with your loved ones during the holiday. Also, adding to the photo album could be a fun activity to add. Having a mini photoshoot and capturing the moments that are being created.
These are simple yet very fulfilling ideas to plan with your friends and family. If you’re busy with entertaining and hosting a scheduled itinerary you’ll have less time feeling pressure or temptations to gamble. You will be enjoying the holidays as you should be rather than stepping backwards into a spiral of issues that follow gambling addiction.
Your loved ones will appreciate the time you took to plan such a fun trip for the holidays and they will be be thankful for you. You will be thankful you fought the urge to gamble and be proud of yourself for following through with your recovery.
Avoid High Risk Situations
Sometimes when family and friends are visiting they want to take a step outside of their every day to day lives. They might be stuck behind a desk all day or serving others as means to support themselves, and the holidays are a perfect little getaway for them.
They often find vacation a way to have guilt free spending and because they save and have budgeted to spend they do not experience any of the shoppers remorse afterwards. However, this may be an event you might just have to sit out.
Ask your friends and family if you could all find another way to enjoy the time away from their regular everyday lives and celebrate the holidays with you perhaps spending another way that is not detrimental you your road to recovery.
Your loved ones will understand and respect that you are taking accountability for your addiction and see the changes you are making by following a safety guide to avoid relapse.
Gambling addiction is real issue, and unfortunately, healing is a rigorous road to recovery but it is possible. By seeking help when you need it you are taking action in taking control of your life. This holiday season take back your control over gambling.
Be thankful you didn’t give in and rejoice with your loved ones. Have a wonderful thanksgiving!
Around this time of the year, many people are overjoyed and celebrating the many festivities to be had.
Families and friends are all gathered together, visiting and sharing memories.
The holidays are perfect for cooking a hot meal, making some drinks and playing some games. Everyone seems to quickly be filled with happiness and harmony.
It is the most wonderful time of the year. For some, however, the holidays can often become, unfortunately, one of the biggest triggering seasons in a problem gamblers entire year.
I sure bet you’re wondering how?
Well, its simple, good food is cooked, memories are beginning to be made, games are being played and occasionally it adds to the event of fun by placing bets upon games for winnings.
In most cases, this is just good ole’ fun and family bonding.
This could actually target a recovering gambling addiction into a relapse of their retired habit.
Here are just a few ways you can be triggered:
• Seemingly harmless games such as Poker and other friendly card games.
• Some family and friends might give away Scratch-off tickets as gifts to loved ones.
• Popular holiday sports events may provide opportunities to place bets on predicted winners and outcomes.
• The holiday season is the usual time in which many individuals take trips and vacations. These resorts and other destinations provide very unique gambling options.
Unfortunately, there are many more triggering situations that can cause problem gamblers to feel the urge to bet their money and begin to spend on gambling.
If you or someone you know is in recovery from a gambling addiction, you must avoid gambling “triggers” in order for your recovery to continue successfully. Even the slightest indulgence can offset your entire journey of progress if the goal is to fully and honestly recover and control your addiction.
Avoiding Holiday Gambling Addiction Triggers
What are some gambling triggers?
These are the reasons or circumstances that most often have or still may cause you to gamble.
Whether your most common way of gambling is by purchasing lottery tickets, or going to different types of casinos. Perhaps partaking in online gambling such as slots for example, or possibly another method.
Gambling triggers often sprout from emotional triggers. Such as anger and frustration to circumstances such as being around people who are gambling.
Just the exposure to the excitement of others gambling. A problem gambler may get a sense of adrenaline just thinking about gambling. Thus, resulting in fighting the urge to gamble to become decreased.
Which ultimately, can interfere with their full recovery. Or even push a gambling addict back into their addiction altogether with.
What Can You Do?
During the holidays, there are many options for gambling addicts to steer clear of temptation! Here are a few tips to get your through.
If you or someone you know is a recovering gambling addict, you may have already put someone else in charge of your finances. This is a key component to a successful recovery.
Having to budget and plan expenses, helps avoid the urge of senseless spending or betting.
If you are at all concerned about yours or someone else urges to gamble during the holidays, make sure you (or they) do not have any sort of access to a surplus of funds or any significant amounts of cash.
This could raise temptation to spend or to gamble during the holidays.
Family Gathering Decisions
Request that your family and friends could please refrain from gambling when playing any sort of games together during this holiday season.
As we all know, a good old fashion card game can be enjoyable. Although, for some placing “bets” on ones winnings might be fun, card games can also be fun without the transfer of money or other types of material goods.
It would probably be in your best interest to refrain from playing these games at all. This will avoid you being reminded of, or triggered by, your past gaming activity. Not to mention, the feelings associated with any sort of wins and losses.
In addition, a request that no gambling occurs while you’re present will allow others to play without posing any immediate danger to you or your loved one’s addiction.
Avoid Dangerous Gifts
As the holiday season draws near, many people are scrambling about trying to come up with the best holiday gift ideas.
For those who give cards, or stuff stockings, sometimes it seems easy, and harmless, to throw in a scratch-off, but “harmless” is absolutely not the case.
Offering scratch-offs could lead to a future of addictions. This is concerning to adolescents as well as and not limited to adults. Underage gambling places our youth at risk to struggle with an addiction disguised as traditional, which creates a harder to break the habit.
Similar to the above passage, the request to our friends and family members that there be no holiday gifts that come in the from of cash or scratch-off tickets.
Both of these types of gifts could possibly trigger the urge to spend on gambling even if it may be “just this once”.
Unfortunately, this action can spiral into the return of a far more serious gambling addiction.
Avoiding Stress During The Holidays
The holidays are meant to bring joy as family and friends come together to celebrate, reminisce, and create new memories.
Although the holidays are a joyous time, many people struggle with stress and anxiety as the holidays approach. Though stress is not good for anyone, stress is especially dangerous for people in recovery.
This stress may lead a person, in recovery, into a relapse.
To continue on the path of recovery, and enjoy the holidays with less stress, below are some options for dealing with this, seemingly, inevitable stressful time.
As you read through these options, remember, not all methods work for everyone at a given time. There are a variety of stress relieving activities listed below as options.
Every person, and every situation is different.
• Healthy Eating
Know Who You Are
Think to yourself about what things initially caused you to gamble before your recovery. Remember why you have chosen to walk away from the life of a gambling addiction.
Implement any skills and tools you’ve learned while on your road to recovery. Make sure your behaviors and habits do not change during the holiday season.
You or your loved one must avoid anything that may trigger gambling impulses.
This may mean monitoring your alcohol intake, or turning down vacation day trips to casinos with friends. Make sure no extra vacation time causes you any feelings of boredom or loneliness.
Remaining honest with yourself will be the ultimate key to maintaining your new recovered life after a gambling addiction.
When you feel the urge to gamble, think about the circumstances. Ask yourself:
What am I feeling right now?
Is it stress, frustration or anger? What is making you want to gamble? How can you deal with these feelings without gambling?
What can you do to cope with stressful or frustrating situations, and how can you manage your anger without placing a bet?
Or could it be happiness that is making you want to gamble? It is not uncommon for gambling to be used as a method to celebrate and can also be socialization for many people.
Unfortunately for most people, emotions impact and drive many of our decisions.
As you identify what emotions cause you to want to gamble, you may need to seek advice from counselors or other recovering problem gamblers.
It’s always a good idea to find alternate ways of managing feelings so that you can keep your own recovery on track.
What is the environment I am in right now?
You have to ask yourself and be honest. Are you in a place where gambling is encouraged? Are you surrounded by people who are gambling?
There will be times that you will have to remove yourself from a setting that may be disruptive to your recovery.
Whether it’s deciding not to visit the casino with friends or choosing to not participate in a workplace gambling pool, avoiding each one of these triggers can and will keep your recovery safe.
Know Where To Find Help
This holiday season doesn’t need to be left hanging. Know where to obtain any assistance desired or needed immediately.
You do not have to feel alone. Your recovery is very important! By taking the appropriate steps in the right direction, it might be just the thing to save you from a set back upon your recovery.
As you prepare for this holiday season, make sure you know exactly where you can find help if you or a loved one are bothered by a strong urge to gamble again.
Keep in mind that the hours that local counselors and treatment centers may vary during the holiday season. Be sure to secure that you will have assistance accessible just in case of an emergency.
If you need help to keep from gambling and to maintain on your journey to recovery and success, call 833-810-8001 immediately!Learn More
We often turn the other cheek at the idea of establishments advertising addictive products and disguising them as “fun” (i.e. alcohol, vapes).
Although casinos look like an adult playground, the atmosphere and incentives offered entice one to “stay and play”, have we not considered that is all part of the plan?
Gambling gives you such an adrenaline rush. When you place your bet and win, you feel invigorating…until you lose. now, for most people, walking away and accepting the loss isn’t an arm twisting decision.
However for someone with a gambling addiction, that just is not the case. The importance of walking away a winner can cost gamblers everything.
Making gambling a priority may lead to them sacrificing their jobs, their money, their relationships with friends and family, and in some situations even their lives.
So, is it too far fetched a theory that casinos do in fact, intentionally enable pathological gamblers?
If you or someone you know has struggled or is currently struggling with gambling addiction, here are some enlightening tips about things to look out for to notice when a casino is preying on you.
What makes a casino so appealing to people?
There is this sense of hypnosis a casino can create, quite literally on purpose. The first thing you recognize when entering is the lighting.
Casino’s tend to keep it very bright and well lit to allow you to feel more awake and alive.
Most customers of casinos would agree that these gambling establishments have the gaudiest carpets they have ever seen. Believe it or not, these brightly colored carpets, with psychedelic designs, are no mistake.
They are, in fact, another one of the casino psychology tricks that keep players alert and happy, encouraging them to play more. These wild carpets won’t allow your eyes to sleep; it will shock them back awake.
Most casinos do not have clocks, windows or fluctuation in temperature. This is what is referred to as the “time warp”.
Casinos do not display clocks that are easily readable. That is if they provide any at all. Removing the concept of time completely designs a more narrowed focus to just atmosphere itself.
If you don’t wear a watch to the casino or you forgot your phone at home, good luck finding out the time.
Time has no meaning in a casino. You won’t find a clock.
Think about it, you cant even see the world outside. Since there are no windows, there are no indicators to help you determine if it’s light or dark outside.
Casinos are purposely designed to look the same, regardless of the hour, and the atmosphere is unchanging.
When you’re in the casino, your internal sense of time shuts off. All that exists is a now that stretches on until you leave. Players who don’t know the time aren’t in a hurry to quit playing.
Casino floors are generally very neutral when it comes to temperatures. Which produces a comfortability and a desire to stay.
The entire aesthetic that most casinos project, says “it’s never time to leave”.
Drunk people take more risks than sober people, alcohol affects the brain, slowing it down.
Even a player who doesn’t get drunk can still make poor decisions under the influence of alcohol.
There’s nothing like a paid up bar tab to make you feel like you have enough extra cash to burn.
Second, gamblers who get buzzed or drunk are far more likely to be careless with their money.
Overall, alcohol corrupts the thinking process of a gambler, which is often a detriment to them but a major benefit to the casino.
Free liquor is hands down the dirtiest tactic used by casinos to encourage gamblers to spend.
The feel that you receive the very moment you arrive is how friendly and welcoming the staff are, the free drinks, it appears that you are valued as a guest.
The reality is that everyone within the casino from dealers to the waitresses, have been programmed to make you feel good, important and lose enough to spend.
What entices people to stay?
Labyrinth Floor Plans
It seems that in most casinos, you can’t find the exit. The concept is “I cant get out of here, so why not just sit down and play a hand or two?”.
When you walk into a casino at any hour you will notice that the vibe is consistent.
It is all the same music, lights, smells, sounds, etc. It’s in a sense, the adult Chuck E. Cheese.
Casinos are very smart about giving losers little rewards just for playing.
Unfortunately, the losers are who account for MOST people in a casino. Alright, it’s not too bad, you lost $5,000 but the hotel gave you a complimentary stay.
So it seems as if a person only lost $3,000, they will realize they still lost $3,000.
A gambler will rationalize that he made some of the losses back on the comps, so it wasn’t all that bad.
Convince of Credit Cards
Without inserting actual cash into the machine, every time you make a bet, it’s easy to forget how much you’re spending. Once you cash out from the machine, a ticket is printed with your remaining balance.
Since you’re not holding physical paper money in your hand, it’s easy to feed that ticket into another machine and keep playing.
The only way to cash your winnings is to visit the cashier. Casinos make it easy for you to play, but not easy for you to walk away.
Sense of Control
Some casino games are designed to give players the feeling of “control.”
This illusion of control can fool many gamblers into thinking that they actually will have a higher chance of winning, which can result in them playing for longer and spending more.
Now, let’s establish the reality that many addicts, when referring to gambling are in fact pathological gamblers. Most of those gambler’s, are very discreet and private.
To the extent of their friends and or their loved ones being completely unaware. Or rarely notice any signs or symptoms giving away the addiction.
So how do we identify if someone is a pathological gambler?
First, What IS a Pathological Gambler?
A person with a gambling disorder, which occurs when a person gambles so compulsively that the wagering has tremendous negative effect on his or her job, relationships, mental health, or even other important aspects of life.
Some may continue to gamble even after they have developed social, economic, interpersonal, or legal problems as a result of the gambling.
Denial of Their Addiction Altogether
By the time someone is deep into gambling, their behavior usually becomes consistent and predictable. They will do anything and say anything to get to their primary goal: gambling.
Denial is a coping mechanism that pathological gambler’s uses to attempt to mask his or her problem. They hope to keep the truth from coming out, the gambler tries to buy time – time they use just to keep on gambling.
In conclusion, Casinos have absolutely used and still do use psychology based tricks on people who are gamblers, whether they have only played once or multiple times.
Something as simple as walking through a casino in vegas to get out to the strip can be a luring experience for someone.
In most cases the disorder develops more slowly over a period of years; yet, there are cases of patients who gambled socially for decades and then began to gamble compulsively as a coping mechanism to life stressors, such as divorce or being laid off from work.
Why People Roll The Dice
“…the pure excitement/dread of not knowing how you’re going to feed your family if you lose the next hand. The thrill of winning such huge stakes is what drives you to go back over and over and over again. Even knowing full well that you WILL lose most of the time.
That the odds are stacked in the house’s favor. Yet, the draw is still there. Because every gambling addict that quits, always quit right before the big one…” – Anonymous Gambling Addict
The flip side of this is where the real truth lies:
It’s going to be even harder to feed your family WHEN you lose the next hand, or the one after that. The thrill of winning is going to be nothing compared to losing your job, your family, your home…
And, the only “big one” you’re really quitting before, is the biggest loss of your life – the loss control. The loss of your wellbeing.
Gambling Addiction Facts
– Gambling addiction affects 2-3% of Americans (that’s millions of people!)
– Gambling addiction generally develops earlier in men, but women now make up 25% of gambling addicts, and their symptoms usually escalate much quicker.
– Direct causes of gambling addictions are unusual. However, the manic episodes associated with bipolar disorder and some medications that treat Parkinson’s disease and restless leg disorder have been associated with the development of gambling addictions.
– Risk factors for developing a gambling addiction include schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and substance addictions, especially alcoholism.
Gambling comes in many forms. Tables at casinos, slot machines, high-stakes poker games, betting with your friends over your favorite football teams.
It is even more readily available through online gambling, which can make it easy to become addicted to and difficult to quit without help.
Gambling triggers the reward center in your brain, creating much the same response as many people receive from getting high or having sex.
How To Know When It’s Time To “Fold”
As with any other addiction, there are some red flags that can be observed when gambling has crossed over from a hobby to an addiction:
-The feeling that you need to lie about, or hide your gambling activities from people you care about or respect.
-Your finances are crumbling around you, and you are skipping paying important bills or borrowing money to continue to gamble.
-Using gambling to help you “escape” problems in your life or to ease depression or anxiety.
-Putting important relationships, responsibilities, and your employment at risk to continue to feed your gambling addiction.
-Returning to gambling after losing money in an effort to recoup losses.
Attempting to quit and feeling anxious or depressed about it, or failing to quit multiple times in a row.
This is a sure-fire sign of ANY type of addiction.
“The opposite of addiction is not sobriety. It is human connection.”
–Johann Hari, author of Chasing the Scream: The First and Last Days of the War on Drugs
If you even suspect that you may have an addiction to gambling, finding support and help on your journey to recovery is very important.
There are support groups and 12 Step Programs, which are proven to be effective for treating every type of addiction out there.
Being vulnerable and honest with trusted friends and family can bring more understanding and connection, and release some of the shame attached to addiction. Isolation is often a difficult side-effect of any kind of addiction, which is part of why the 12-Step Programs work so well.
Having sponsors and supportive people who understand your addiction can greatly increase your chances of recovery.
Diagnosis & Treatment Of Gambling Addiction
“The journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step.” – Lao Tzu
To receive an accurate diagnosis, it is important to talk to your doctor honestly about what is going on with you. It is rarely easy to open up to anyone about a possible addiction or self-destructive behavior, but to receive help, you must first ask for it.
Some medical conditions can cause an individual to develop erratic, impulsive behaviors.
This include problem gambling, so it is important to get a full physical and psychological checkup to determine the root of the issue.
Your doctor may prescribe therapy, antidepressants or anti-anxiety medication to help with root issues that may be causing your gambling addiction.
Many rehabilitation centers have effective treatment available for gambling addiction.
Financial counseling will likely be an important step during recovery from gambling addiction. It is not uncommon to end up in serious debt or bankruptcy, to default on loans, and to lose major investments like your home or car.
It is important to note that 70% of people diagnosed with gambling addiction are also diagnosed with another psychiatric disorder.
Therefore, it is important to get proper diagnosis, and find treatment that will address all mental health conditions that may come into play.
Alcoholism, cocaine use, and other substance abuse is common with Gambling Addiction.
These things can create unfortunate health side effects that you may need to address during recovery.
In addition, many people who did not previously show signs of depression or anxiety may develop feelings of hopelessness, anxiety, mood disorders, or even suicidal tendencies.
This is a result of the difficult circumstances that can be brought about through gambling addiction.
If things have gotten so bad that you are feeling hopeless, suicidal, or considering self-harm, it is important to seek IMMEDIATE help.
In cases such as this, an in-patient program may be an important step in recovery.
Remember That Recovery Is Possible!
Admitting that you have a problem, as we all know, is the first step. But what comes next? It can be overwhelming to take stock of the wreckage that addiction can create in one’s life, finances, and relationships.
However, that is a necessary step.
Here are some other helpful steps you can take as you get started on this journey:
– Make a list of all of your debts.
Again, we know this can be overwhelming and upsetting. However, it is important to have it all on paper so you know where to begin. Overdue payments, cash advances, money borrowed from loved ones, and money you owe casinos may go on this list.
Foreclosures or repossessions may also be at the top of the list.
After you make this list, set it aside and get to the next step:
– Make a list of ways that gambling has negatively affected your life and health
Physical health issues from alcoholism, smoking, or skipping meals and exercise may all go on this list.
As mentioned earlier, emotional issues such as depression or anxiety are likely to arise from the situations and problems created in your life by gambling.
Lost jobs, lost trust, lost friends… unfortunately, these may all be side effects of a gambling addiction as well.
Legal issues may have arisen out of your gambling addiction from arrests, divorce, unpaid bills, etc.
Your family life is also likely to have suffered. Your spouse and/or kids may have lost respect or trust in you, or you may be in the middle of separation or divorce.
It is time to take stock of the relationships you may be able to mend, apologies that need to be made, and to really understand how to begin to “change the things you cannot accept, and accept the things you cannot change.”
– List the reasons you compulsively gambled
Understanding the reasons you have engaged in unhealthy behavior is key to building a foundation of healthy behavior.
– Limit your access to gambling and to your own money
Doing this may include avoiding casinos, having a trusted loved one place blocks on your computer or internet so you cannot access online gambling, having your paychecks direct deposited into a spouse’s account instead of your own, etc.
You may also need to cancel credit cards, give your ATM card to trusted person, put yourself on a daily cash allowance, and advise those close to you not to lend you any money.
– Identify your triggers and ways you can redirect or overcome them
Triggers may be internal (thoughts or feelings) or external (situations) and lead to the urge or desire to gamble.
Internal triggers may include feelings of shame, helplessness, anger, anxiety, or even boredom.
External triggers may include things like billboards for casinos, TV commercials for gambling, or poker tournaments on TV.
Replace compulsive reactions to triggers with healthy behaviors such as exercise, spending time with family, productive hobbies and activities.
Recovery Is The One “Game” You Should Bet On….
Recovering from gambling addiction is possible and there are many forms of support to help you achieve this.
Start out by practicing forgiveness and gentleness toward yourself.
Take the steps that your doctor, therapist, and/or support group advise. As you begin to heal from the psychological and emotional issues that be created by gambling addiction, you will see the toxic cycle begin to slow to a halt. Healing always begins from within.
Therapy, medications, meditation, and connection can all be very useful. The prognosis for recovery from gambling addiction is hopeful!
With treatment, 2/3rds of people with gambling addiction were still able to abstain from gambling a year after receiving 6 weeks of treatment. Consistency with your treatment, and continuing on a path of self-improvement and healing will make all the difference.
One step at a time, one good choice at a time, you CAN quit the game, and win the war against gambling addiction.Learn More
There are some things to keep in mind when you or someone you love is battling with a Gambling Addiction. Gambling debt is on the rise in the United States.
Approximately 85% of American adults have gambled at least once in their lifetime.
The gambling industry nets approximately $500 Billion dollars a year.
That’s right $500 Billion dollars. That’s an astounding number.
It is estimated that as many as 23 million Americans go into debt because of gambling.
That being said, we have to ask ourselves- are we “all in” or have we “folded”?
Unless you are a statistical genius, then the odds are probably stacked against you.
When the odds are against you, and your luck has run out, you may find yourself stuck with a pile of debt instead of a pile of chips.
If you find yourself in a similar situation the answer is not to “go all in”. The answer is to fold and walk away.
This may sound easier than it is, but we have to start somewhere. Just like any other addiction, a gambling addiction is no different.
Recognize We Have A Problem And Seek Help
Here are some ways to determine if you have found yourself without a “full house” and you may need help to reduce your “black out”.
First of all. ask yourself these questions:
Are you missing your house payment to bet on the game this week?
Are you charging your credit cards to their limits?
Are you cashing your paycheck at the casino?
If you answer YES to any of these questions you may be struggling with a Gambling Addiction.
We may have established that we have a gambling addiction so what do we do next?
How Do We Find Help
How do we find help, so as to not dig a deeper hole in relations to debt?
Well, here are a few suggestions that can help you find your “royal flush” and rise out of the hole we just dug.
Debt can be looked at as a wager, just as if you were betting on this week’s game. I’ll explain…
You have $1,000 this week and your house payment is due.
If you decide to place that bet on your favorite game this week your odds of winning are at best 50/50,. So if you take the $1,000 and pay your house payment, the odds that you can stay in your house another a month is 100%.
Looking at the odds which one sounds like a winning hand?
If you chose paying your house payment, you have just “doubled down” on the road to recovery.
A Gambling Addiction can throw a “joker” in your hand and strip you from those things that are most important in your life. Such as your marriage, children, stability, a job, self-worth, and last but not least ,confidence in your self.
With support, you can find your “ace”, by finding the winning combination from financial debt- to financial stability.
Steps to Overcome Debt Related to a Gambling Addiction
Here are some ways that you can help those odds when it comes to debt in regards to a Gambling Addiction.
Make the Choice to Stop Gambling
Make the conscious decision to stop gambling, and discuss your decision with your friends and family.
Know what triggers you have and avoid them at all costs. A Gambling Addiction is no different than any other addiction, but making this decision can help you recover your losses and gain your life back.
Only you can take control to make a change in your life and find financial stability again.
Cut Off the Ability to Have Access to Your Gambling Fund
If you find that you are charging your gambling escapades on credit cards, bookies, loan sharks, or taking out a home equity loan, then you need to find a way keep them out of reach.
Cut up any credit cards or close accounts that would enable your gambling.
Eliminate the impulse of gambling. Avoid using your ATM card and have a two-signature process on any withdrawals from the bank.
This will help to put a barrier between you and your money and will make it harder for you to give in to your gambling addiction.
Seek Professional Treatment
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders has added Gambling Addiction to their new manual.
This opens ups avenues that make seeking help easier. Insurance companies are required to cover therapy for Gambling Addictions which is a win/win for you. Your therapist/counselor can help implement an action plan to help ensure avoidance to gambling. Your therapist/counselor posseses the tools you need, to help you become successful in your recovery.
Find a Support System
Just as professional counseling is a support to help beat the odds of relapsing, it is important to have support from your friends and family also.
Having a strong support system will improve your odds to be successful.
Let your support system know of your action plan to avoid gambling, and communicate your progress. We all want you to win against the odds of gambling.
Getting Your Finances Back In Order
Once you have established a game plan for seeking help, now it’s time to get your finances under control to pay or reduce your debt. Here are some suggestions of how to do just that:
List all of the Debts You Owe
This is an important step in knowing the impact that Gambling Addiction has had on your finances.
Make a list of all of your debtors, and keep track of what you owe.
This will help you know where you stand and help you develop a plan in order to repay them. Write them down in a notebook or a spreadsheet.
Keep track of the balance of each debt. This can help to get your finances paid down faster.
Each one you pay down is a win for you.
Once you have your list of who and what you owe, see what you are able to pay directly off.
Start by taking monies that you would have placed on the game, or in the slots, and instead, pay off a debtor.
This will help you start to eliminate your remaining debt. If you feel unable to do this, perhaps the next step should begin with a budget that will start reducing your debt.
Get a Budget
I’m sure we have heard this most of our lives about putting a budget together, but this time it can really save you.
Once you have your list of debts, (make sure your monthly living expenses are on your budget) you are able to prioritize them.
Know how much you have left over, so that you can pay down your debt, or even eliminate your debt. Having a budget and sticking to it can get you out of debt faster than you realize.
Paying Off High Interest Credit Cards
In debt 101, it is suggested you start paying down the highest interest credit cards first. Consumers don’t realize how much each year we pay in interest alone.
By taking the highest interest card, and paying as much as you can over the minimum payment, will reduce your debt faster. By only paying the minimum payment, you will stay stagnate and your debt will never decrease.
Make sure that your budget accounts for the minimum payments for all other credit cards that must be paid, while you’re paying the highest interest rate first.
Once you have paid off the first credit card, then combine the payment you were previously paying and apply that to the second highest rate credit card. This will help reduce the balance at a faster rate.
Continue to do this with the rest of the credit cards until you are debt free.
Obtaining a Loan
If your credit isn’t at rock bottom because of your Gambling Addiction, then it may be useful to apply for a bank loan to consolidate your debt.
You now have your expenses and list of debts and this can give the bank a better picture of what they are willing to loan you.
Combining all your debts into one loan will help save on interest and allows you to make one payment to one lender, rather than trying to juggle multiple lenders.
Be careful when applying for a debt consolidation loan. You do not want to free up credit cards that will give you the means and urge to gamble.
This would be a good point to close or cut up any cards or accounts that could give you access to your Gambling Addiction.
Stop Using, Start Living
I realize this is a lot of information.
However, by having a plan, creating a budget, and understanding your gambling addiction with your therapist/counselor, you now have the tools to become financially stable in the aftermath of a gambling addiction.
This is not the time to put on your “poker face” this is the time to “show all your cards”.
Here at Williamsville Wellness we have a motto : “Stop Using, Start Living”. We specialize in Gambling Addiction, and we are here to help find the best treatment plan for you.
All we ask is for you to “bet” on us to help you recover, and get your life back.
Written by: Dana ElzyLearn More
In recovery people often talk about sponsorship. This is someone who will guide you through your sobriety and the Twelve Steps to remain clean and sober. But, there is another aspect of recovery that is just as important; making friends!
For anyone in recovery, long term sobriety is strongly associated with the connections made in the rooms of Alcoholics or Narcotics Anonymous.
Just like the workplace developing strong relationships adds to the quality of a person’s life.
So, the alcoholic or addict needs to build friendships to be content and lead a fulfilling life in sobriety.
John C., a member of Alcoholics anonymous developed a friendship with Bob M. They always went to the same meeting and one day they were talking, fishing!
John was saying that he used to fish before he starting drinking heavily. He would often have a plan to go to the beach and do some surf casting. But, just like a typical alcoholic, he would make big plans and never follow through.
Bob had a few more years sober and regularly went to the beach to fish. So, he said, “John we’re going fishing this weekend”.
Sure enough they made plans and headed out for a day of fishing on an early Saturday morning. Bob and John fished, talked recovery and enjoyed the sunshine on that beautiful Saturday.
It soon became a regular thing and a long lasting friendship developed!
Mary B. discussed the value of such a friendship. After leaving treatment she went to meetings on a regular basis. She did not have a vehicle. Therefore, she would bike to meetings and work. Yet, after a while she met a woman, named Melissa, who offered to pick her up and take her to meetings and work.
A friendship developed and they spent more time together.
Thus, they started enjoying each other’s company and would talk a lot about living sober. Melissa was not Mary’s sponsor. She was just another alcoholic helping out a friend.
One day, they were out eating lunch. Mary mentioned that she was having thoughts about wanting to relapse. Melissa looked at her and simply said, “I don’t want to see you do that”. The sincerity in this her eyes and the tone of her voice was so caring that the thought of drinking again did not seem appealing anymore.
Having Friends in Recovery Enhances a Person’s Life
Mary and Melissa’s friendship prevented a relapse and enhanced the quality of Mary’s life. They still hang out to this day and have lots of great laughs.
Mary later conveyed to me that she often remembers this friend and others when she is going through tough times. They motivate her to stay sober! Twelve Step Meetings offer a better life and a deep sense of fellowship. That is what recovery is all about.Learn More
VA IOP Services explain how to beat the disease of addiction!
It is often recommended that once an individual leaves treatment he or she should do certain things to stay clean. Attending 12-step meetings, getting a sponsor, seeing a therapist and creating a spiritual life are some of the suggestions.
Doing these things will help the person be more self-aware and develop a new way of living. Therefore, a relapse will also be less likely.
Warning signs of relapse are crucial factors to learn while in treatment and if you learn them you will prevent another trip back to a treatment center.
One of the main reasons people relapse is because they cut back or stopped doing the things that people recommended to do to maintain sobriety. This is certainly a warning sign that someone is in danger of drinking or drugging.
Other warning signs might be a little more subtle. Some of which might be stress due to home, work, or financial worries. Others could be overworking, lack of sleep, difficulty concentrating, or irritability. Having such symptoms can be uncomfortable for the addict and can push them in the direction to want to escape these feelings.
Isolation and loneliness are other signs that someone can be on the verge of a relapse. It is often said that the worst place to be for an addict is alone in his or her own’s head. Therefore, an addict will need the help of others.
Additionally, when a person is becoming more and more self-centered this is a sign that there might be a problem.
So often recovering addicts will say get out of self and into others. In other words, in order to stay sober, it is important that you help others and give away what you have learned.
No one can do this alone. Be mindful of yourself and you will be prepared to take on the warning signs of a potential relapse.
Here are other examples of what others do to maintain long-term sobriety. It takes work and practice but if you put it to use you can be happy in sobriety.
One way to calm yourself throughout the day is through Meditation and/or Prayer. Being able to master a meditation practice, engage in conventional prayer or taking time out to quiet yourself is a great idea.
Next, self-care (including exercise) will help reduce stress. In early sobriety, most addicts have a very tired, worn-out and sometimes sick body. There are many things one can do to feel better. Healthy eating, regular sleep and frequent exercise are a good start.
Taking walks or joining a gym can be great ways to feel better. If possible, make an appointment with your primary care physician to get the care you may need and to get in the habit of staying current with your medical care.
It’s tough to stay sober in isolation. Many recovering persons have found the support they need in 12-step groups. Connecting with a church can also be a great support. Recovering people who become involved in some sort of spiritual practice get results.
Another way to improve your life is by volunteering in your community. If you are in a 12-Step group, you can find a service position. A few examples are making coffee for the group or greeting people at the door before the meeting starts.
VA IOP Services Stress that You Keep Doing the Things that Got You Sober!
Being aware of your weaknesses is also an important to maintaining sobriety. So, if hanging out with people who still use or if you are in an unhealthy relationship then make some changes because these are not the people who will support you in your recovery.
In addition, if you know that isolating has led to relapse in the past then do your best to get to know others in your meetings or church. Try going out for coffee or a bite to eat. This will also make it easier when you need to reach out for help.
But lastly, VA IOP Services stress that you avoid high-risk situations such as parties, bars and unpredictable family events. It’s recommended that in the first year, at the very least, to avoid them when possible or bring a friend along.
So, with the help of others and forming some healthy habits you will be on the right path to happiness. Good luck and try following some of these suggestions!
When this former patient was 14 years old she drank for the first time. This experience would be the beginning to a life of poor choices and unhealthy living. The young teen quickly fell prey to alcohol.
Most would argue that experimenting is a part of growing up. But, when alcohol becomes addictive and a priority for a child in their developing years then he or she is sure to take a big hit on their well-being.
It is almost predictable with what will happen to those who at a young age allow drinking to be the main focus on one’s life. Drinking usually starts out as a once a week thing or even once a month.
Next, it’s every weekend and then before they know it drinking occurs whenever possible.
The next phase is a change in attitude. Parents or teachers usually are the first ones to notice this change.
Maybe a slip in grades or lack of effort towards basic things that used to be a “given”. For instance, cleaning a bedroom, waking up on time or taking care of one’s appearance.
Other things begin to change as well. A child’s behavior becomes riskier. They begin to push the limits and have a belief that they are invincible.
This feeling might also push them to try other substances. One former patient indicated that he never would have tried marijuana or cocaine but that the alcohol buzz gave him the courage to do something that normally in his right mind he never would have done.
Later on, in his years of abuse this would also be true for trying heroin for the first time.
So, for those who think experimenting with alcohol is a part of growing up, maybe it shouldn’t be. You just never know when something so innocent can turn into a life of misery!
For optimal success after addiction treatment, I was told several things.
” People in recovery must often make radical changes in their habits, relationships, environment and life in general. Think about what helped you most in treatment.
It is often the readiness and willingness to change; the improved communication via openness and honesty; the structure and routines of the treatment day; the encouragement and support; the changes in thoughts, beliefs, and movement towards your true values; the beginning of hope”.
How did I and many others continue this trend after receiving addiction treatment? These are the steps to take…
- Follow through on your scheduled aftercare appointments – with your counselor/therapist, psychiatrist or family doctor. Be honest with what has really gone on with you.
- Identify and practice new hobbies, interests, outlets, and activities. It’s important to activate new neural pathways. Consider music, art, social events, educational classes, etc.
- Avoid isolation by attending meetings, developing new supports, exploring spiritual outlets.
- Remain active. Go to the gym, walk daily, practice yoga, swim, hike, play golf, shoot hoops, etc.
- Pay attention to your emotions and what your body is telling you. Practice stress management. Let out your emotions in healthy way (talk to a friend, journal, cry)
- Continue to be open to self-discovery and be mindful of all-or-nothing thinking. Work on self-compassion and forgiveness.
- Continue to maintain communication with recovery supports, healthy relationships and family members.
- Continue to identify your strengths and discover new ones by getting out of your comfort zone in reasonable ways.
- Ask for help whenever you feel overwhelmed, lost, helpless, and apathetic.
- Show gratitude and appreciation often. Help others, but balance it with self-car.
Follow these suggestions and you will have a great chance of being successful!Learn More
Permission to “Chill”, by Kristin Fisher
Like most of us, I’ve been groomed to push myself toward achievement in most areas of my life. It seems that, in the current culture, it’s no longer cleanliness that we deem closest to Godliness; it’s busy-ness.
If our calendars aren’t a rainbow of appointments and meetings, if we’re not constantly exhausted and worn down, we must be lazy or falling behind somewhere. The question is, where is the time to unwind? When do we give ourselves permission or schedule in time to relax?
When I started to finally start taking yoga (after years of considering it but never taking the time to make it a priority) I noticed that my favorite part of the class, along with most everyone else in the class, was when the teacher would say “savasana” (rest or that part of the class when you get to lay down and just be).
I’ve come to understand that for the lion’s share of yogis, savasana reigns supreme. And rightly so! When else does someone let you lay down for 10 minutes to just rest?!
The thing is, if we let ourselves, we could do this at any time (okay, maybe not during a meeting or in the produce department). I think the key word here is “let.” When the yoga teacher stands before me and tells me it’s time to rest, I’ve just been given permission to do so. I’m allowed and it’s okay, in that moment, to simply be.
As I’ve come to fully embrace the extraordinary importance of giving myself that kind of permission this brings me to the point: welcome the radical idea that living a full life and loving oneself means allowing that time to chill.
Give yourself permission to stop taking calls and emails after work hours so you can sit outside and chat with family. Allow yourself to take time to rest after meals. Grant yourself the mental space to put aside a stressful situation and deal with it when you have the time and energy to process.
You can skip the gym after a long day. It’s okay to say “no” to a project or a social engagement solely based on not feeling like it. Forgo a utilitarian shower in the morning for a leisurely bath in the evening. Accept that, every once in a while, you can let someone else do the cooking.
Leave space in your agenda for doing nothing, and don’t feel guilty about it.
Embrace the relaxed feeling of sitting to meditate or making tea first thing in the morning, before grabbing your phone. Take a bike ride without anywhere to go. Unplug for an entire weekend so you can read a book cover to cover. Leave space in your agenda for doing nothing, and don’t feel guilty about it.
It seems the lesson is that our value as people is directly tied to your obligations. Grace, humility, presence of mind—none of these matters if you’re not running yourself ragged. This notion has become so ingrained that we don’t even realize it’s happening. And, we are passing this onto our children!
Ask yourself, when is the last time you (or your child) had an entire weekend without commitments? When is the last time you took a nap, or a bath? These are important activities for nurturing the body, the mind, the spirit. It’s no secret how deeply healing mindfulness is. But is it even possible to be mindful when you’re living in a never-ending whirlwind of commitment?
So, give yourself—and your children—permission to rest.Learn More