How to Handle a Gambling Addiction

Addictions are prevalent throughout all aspects of our society, but when we think of addiction, our mind usually goes to substance abuse. While dependencies on drugs and alcohol are the most common, there are other, equally detrimental addictions that are too often overlooked. Addictions can destroy lives and leave you feeling helpless and unsure where to turn for help.

Gambling stimulates the reward center of the brain in much the same way as drugs and alcohol can, which leads to addictive behavior. It involves the willingness to risk losing something of value in order to gain something of greater value in its place. However, long-term gambling addiction is likely to lead to serious financial implications, as the probability of losing far outweighs the odds of winning, and a compulsive gambler will lose their ability to walk away when they start to lose.

Those who have problems with compulsive gambling in Oklahoma or elsewhere may find themselves chasing their losses, accumulating serious debt, depleting all financial funds, hiding their behavior from loved ones, or even resorting to theft in order to feed their addiction. All of these behaviors are detrimental and can take a toll on your quality of life. In the long run, compulsive gambling is as much an addiction as drugs and alcohol can be, and so needs to be treated equally in order for those suffering from it to recover.

According to the Mayo Clinic, here are some of the most common symptoms of gambling addiction:

  • Being preoccupied with gambling, such as constantly planning how to get more gambling money.
  • Needing to gamble with increasing amounts of money to get the same thrill.
  • Trying to control, cut back, or stop gambling, without success.
  • Feeling restless or irritable when you try to cut down on gambling
  • Gambling to escape problems or relieve feelings of helplessness, guilt, anxiety, or depression.
  • Trying to get back lost money by gambling more (chasing losses).
  • Lying to family members or others to hide the extent of your gambling.
  • Jeopardizing or losing important relationships, a job, or school or work opportunities because of gambling.
  • Resorting to theft or fraud to get gambling money.
  • Asking others to bail you out of financial trouble because you gambled money away.

Risk Factors

Anyone can be susceptible to a gambling problem, but similar to most other addictions, the causes can be a combination of biological, genetic, and environmental factors. Those who gamble compulsively often have other underlying mental disorders, such as a co-occurring drug or alcohol addiction, ADHD, OCD, or bipolar disorder.

It is also more common to see gambling addictions in men than women, and more frequently seen in younger to middle-aged adults, particularly those who gambled during their childhood or teenage years. Other risk factors include influences of family or friends and personality characteristics such as being highly competitive, compulsive, restless, or easily bored.

The path to recovery

The most effective way to kick a compulsive gambling habit is always to seek professional help for your addiction. But if you’re looking for a few tips or tricks to help you on your road to recovery, here are some ideas:

Wanting to stop

As with most addictions, the first step to recovery is realizing you may have a problem and making the conscious decision to do something about it. Many people run into problems when they visit new places, as they may not have a casino or place to gamble that is close to home, so do your best to stay away from looking for a “casino near me” every new place that you go.

Overcoming urges

You will experience overwhelming urges to gamble throughout your path to recovery. Every time you overcome an urge, you get stronger, and future urges can be easier to beat. While staying away from casinos is the easiest way to avoid urges, you’ll inevitably come across an opportunity to gamble at several points in the future, which is why learning how to deal with your urges in a healthy way is important.

Let the urges pass

Do whatever you can to distract yourself if you feel the urge to gamble. By allowing time for the urge to pass you can give yourself more control over the decision. It’s wise to take some deep breaths and focus on a different activity, such as taking a shower or reading a book. Not giving in to the urges the moment they come up allows yourself time to think through why you need to avoid gambling and make a more logical decision.

Seek support

Having a good support system can be key to kicking any type of addictive behavior. It’s much tougher to go it alone, so you could try joining a support group or calling trustworthy friends or family whenever you feel like you might gamble. By the same token, try to avoid other gamblers or people who won’t be sensitive to your situation, as they’re likely to encourage you to make a wrong decision. Having a reliable source of support is also a good distraction if you feel an urge to gamble. It’s helpful to have someone you can talk to or meet up with to help you distract yourself and overcome those urges.

Get professional help

Compulsive gambling can be a very difficult addiction to recover from, and while at times it may seem hopeless, remember that there have been plenty of people before you who have beat their compulsive gambling disorders. If you think that you might have a gambling problem and you want to quit, the most reliable and successful option is to seek professional treatment for your addiction.

If you think you are afflicted by a gambling addiction, get help before making your way to a casino again. Tonkawa Casino is the perfect place for a responsible gaming trip. Win like a king and sleep like one too at the Tonkawa Hotel & Casino. Relax with a drink at the Buffalo Lounge & Grill. And, take advantage of our ongoing promotions and reward club offerings. Our two Oklahoma casino locations – Tonkawa and Native Lights Casino – offer something for everyone! Learn more and book your trip online today!