How to Overcome Betting Addiction: Practical Tips on Problem Gambling
Understand why betting is addictive for some people, learn the signs and symptoms that lead to problem gambling, and how to overcome gambling addiction.
When done prudently, sports betting, casino games, poker, bingo etc. can be fun. Sadly, going overboard can rapidly transform what should be an occasional enjoyment into a severe challenge for many people.
Problem gambling was deemed to be a compulsive disorder, but not anymore: Mental health professionals categorised it as an addiction disorder since 2013. Our role at BettingInstitute is to provide you with as much information and guidance as possible.
Every money management betting guide tells you to never bet what you can’t afford to lose. Nevertheless, many punters choose to ignore the advice and get carried away. Then, they end up bankrupt after chasing losses. The worst cases end up borrowing money and living a life of crime.
So, how do you cure betting addiction?
Acknowledge that you have a problem, commit to a battle of resisting temptations, talk to your family and reach out for support. Many others have done it, and you can, too.
Quickly navigate to your desired topic:
- Why Gambling is Addictive
- Responsible Betting Tips & Tricks
- Signs of Problem Gambling
- Overcoming Gambling Addiction
Why Gambling is Addictive
Our brain releases dopamine every time we have a rewarding experience, and this creates feelings of euphoria. Scientists have discovered that the high feeling generated by drugs is a consequence of excessive dopamine release, which is about 10 times higher than any natural rewarding experience. Unfortunately, gambling can have the same effect on some people.
But why is it so easy for several folks to walk away from the bookies, casinos or poker tables after the fund ends when certain people struggle?
Although there are plenty of factors in play, research shows that addicts often have genetic predispositions. Betting, just like drugs, provides a highly rewarding experience for individuals whose brains are less stimulated by regular, rewarding experiences than the average person, and those who are impulsive in nature. This combination often leads to abuse.
So, yes, some of us are prone to addictions…
But what triggers gambling addiction? The winnings are often the culprit.
What happens is that problem gamblers get a dopamine kick after a series of wins. Then, just like with substance abuse, the brain builds up a tolerance as a way to defend itself. Our body starts to deliver less dopamine to the brain when we win, minimising the level of pleasure we feel, in the attempt to adapt to the new conditions.
A punter who wagers occasionally won’t have much trouble as the brain will quickly return to normal. However, excessive gambling can alter brain function long-term. The cravings show up when an addict tries to stay away from gambling, but no matter what he does, he won't get an entirely satisfactory response. At this stage, the addict feels that betting provides the only way to stay in the ‘new normal'.
Most problem gamblers don’t realise what’s going on, but even if they would understand it, the cravings can be too strong to resist in some cases. That’s why most betting addicts require professional help to solve their problem.
As much as online bookmakers are in it for the money, it would be wrong to think that they target vulnerable people. Bookies want responsible players for a couple of reasons. First, gambling drama stories are bad publicity. Second, they would earn more from punters if they wager less, but continuously.
In fact, top UK bookmakers advise players to wager no more than 10% of their monthly income and not a penny more than they can afford to lose. Many people forget that gambling is all about having fun and not a way of earning a living.
Responsible Betting Tips & Tricks
Gambling should be an enjoyable source of entertainment. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case. Betting for the wrong reason and often exposure can lead to unwanted consequences.
It is easy to get carried away, that’s why you have to analyse your behaviour. You have to track and control your gambling urges before they get out of hand. People with impulse control disorders are especially at risk.
Following these tips can help you to gamble more safely:
- Make sure betting is not your only recreational activity. Reactivate some of your old hobbies or start a new one. Try taking a class, play with your dog, try out some creative cuisines, learn to play a musical instrument etc.
- Do not seek the perfect betting system. Nothing can guarantee success in gambling. Nothing in this world. So, don’t expect to beat the bookies by paying for fixed matches. Instead, spend your time reading betting guides to improve your betting experience.
- Do not engage in betting to escape from difficulties. Some individuals rely on vices to make it through stressful moments, but it’s a trap. Remember, you should only wager for fun!
- Don’t say yes to every gambling opportunity. There’s no reason to wager every time your friends do. This is a simple yet effective way to both test and practice self-control.
- Don’t spend too much time gambling. The more often you wager, the higher the chances are for your brain to suffer alterations. Set the alarm if you're at risk of losing track of time.
- Don’t mix alcohol or drugs with betting. Bad habits are linked to each other, so you must take precautions in order to be safe. Smoking, drinking, overeating, substance abuse & problem gambling can have disastrous effects on your health.
- Never borrow money for betting. The consequences can be disastrous. Stop whenever you find yourself in such situations. Set a monthly budget and abide by it to be safe.
- When the fun stops, stop playing. Don't ever think about trying to win back what you've lost. There isn’t a single punter who managed to avoid losing their entire bankroll while chasing losses. It is a good idea to learn a thing or two about overcoming loss aversion.
Remember, it’s much easier to break a habit than to eliminate addiction. If you struggle to respect the points listed above, get help before it becomes severe. Gambling addiction affects 1 to 3 per cent of adults of all ages, men more often than women. Betting problems can happen to anyone from any walk of life. There's nothing to be embarrassed about!
Signs of Problem Gambling
You should not feel ashamed to take a test that might reveal how much of an impact betting is having in your life and if gambling has become a problem for you.
On the contrary, this is a sign of courage and responsibility.
Pathological gambling has been recognised as being a psychological disorder since 1990. It is not about someone being stupid, but rather prone to compulsive gambling. People who gamble often should take this more seriously. The adult population needs to understand that hiding this habit won’t help them solve this problem, it will only make things worse.
Broadly speaking, betting becomes a problem when you can’t resist the urge to gamble, even if you can’t afford to lose any more money or when you find yourself wagering, despite realising the negative consequences.
10 signs you're addicted to gambling:
- Betting is no longer a form of entertainment. You are gambling to forget your problems and to relieve stress, even if it leads to having increased debt, unpaid bills, or other financial troubles.
- You are lying to your partner, your family, your colleagues and your friends. You’ve become very secretive about your actions and your money.
- Feeling irritable, impatient or restless when you haven’t had your ‘dose'. Withdrawal symptoms show up when you stop. On the other hand, you sometimes lose track of time while gambling.
- You just can’t get it off your head! You are always thinking of or talking about gambling. You’re eagerly planning your next session right after leaving the bookies, casino, bingo or poker room.
- Gambling makes you neglect family or household responsibilities. Betting has become more important than anything, and you are continuously mulling over how to recoup your losses and strike it rich.
- Looking for new sources of financing. You are preoccupied with fuelling your urge to gamble. You’ve thought about borrowing money, selling things and even stealing to obtain money for gambling.
If your life or the life of someone you know revolves around gambling, do not hesitate to perform a self-test: GamCare’s Self-assessment tool will present you a breakdown of how betting is affecting your life and guide you through the steps you have to take to take to changer your gambling habits.
Please do not ignore the gambling addiction symptoms!
Remember, being worried about your gambling is a good sign. However, ignoring your feelings only makes matters worse. Do not wait until you are in distress:
- UK National Gambling Helpline (Freephone): 0808 8020 133
- GamCare provides support and counselling for problem gamblers in the UK.
- Gordon Moody Association – offers residential treatment programmes for men and women who have problems with gambling
- Gamblers Anonymous UK – runs local support groups
Next, we’re going to show you a few tips about how to stop gambling when it becomes a problem.
Overcoming Gambling Addiction
Are you wondering how to stop gambling addiction on your own? This is an excellent place to start. However, we can't stress enough about how important it is to seek professional help.
Do you want to know why?
Stopping problem gambling can be extremely difficult, and some problem punters aren’t able to resist the impulse to gamble unless they’re supported by professionals and their loved ones.
Can a gambling problem be cured? Yes, but you’ll have to work hard to achieve it.
Learn how to stop gambling addiction – UK guide:
- Face up the facts. The problem may seem obvious to others but not to you. Avoid emotional confusion by accepting that you have a gambling problem. Don’t be afraid to admit it and pursue gambling addiction treatment.
- Stop hiding. This is the most worrying part of the process for most people with gambling problems, but it can be done before or after seeking professional support. Reminding yourself that your loved ones will forgive you is crucial. Sooner or later they’ll find out anyway, so think about the consequences of letting this bad habit continue. Please don’t try to skip this step, as hard as it may seem. Remember, addiction is common. You will get through this!
- Put some blocks in place. Make it harder for yourself to gamble by using the self-exclusion options and by installing blocking software – computer and phone apps that block your access to gambling sites. Also check out GAMSTOP, a platform that lets you put controls in place to restrict your online gambling activities.
- Try an online treatment course. GameChange is an eight-week course designed so you can work on your gambling behaviour at your own pace. The course is based on cognitive behavioural therapy. After the screening process, you'll get access to modules that will teach you useful and practical skills. You’ll also schedule a weekly 20-minute call with a practitioner that will help you through the course and track your progress.
- Allow someone else to manage your money for you. You will have the burden lifted from your shoulders. This probably is the most efficient way to discontinue the loss-chasing madness. Reminding yourself that to gamble is to lose is propitious. Talk to professional debt counsellor if you have to.
- Avoid triggers. Avoid going out in places where the urge to gamble is likely to emerge. Steer clear of people who gamble. Avoid loneliness. Abstain from other vices. Let your friends know you are doing your best to overcome your addiction – They will likely encourage you when you are struggling with your withdrawal symptoms.
- Look for inspirational recovery stories. Network with others who’ve successfully given up gambling. After all, you are not the first person to be going through this process. Search for betting addiction stories on Google and YouTube.
- Find alternative ways of coping with stress. Exercise, eat healthily, reduce your caffeine intake, write things down, spend time with family and friends, laugh, pray, cuddle, play with a pet, listen to baroque music, read a book, take a walk in the park etc. All these are proven ways to reduce stress. Find what works best for you.
- Build a busy schedule. Live your life one day at a time. Focus on what you can do today. This can be a perfect time to revive old hobbies and start new ones. Don’t be afraid to try something completely new, and remember to set new goals and tasks each day. Do whatever you can to stay busy – This will soothe the withdrawal symptoms.
- Start a journal. Write down how you feel, what new experiences you've had, and how grateful you are about this and that. This will help you understand what you've achieved and, at the same time, keep you going. Writing gives you the means to gather your bearings and supports recovery from addiction. Just do it!
Did you know that the UK Gambling Commission has banned credit card usage at online gambling platforms? The ban started on the 14th of April 2021. As a result, British residents are only allowed to use debit cards to top-up their betting accounts.
Apart from that, the UK Gambling Commission has announced that all betting sites that request a license should have Gamstop membership. This has taken online gambling self-exclusion to another level!
Our betting guide has come to an end. Please remember that addiction to gambling has been added to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5). If untreated, It can become a severe mental health issue just like depression, anxiety disorders, personality disorder, bipolar disorder, eating disorder, alcohol addiction, and so on.
So, don’t be afraid to head to one of the many treatment centres. Cognitive behavioural therapy can help you quit gambling and save your life!