Ways to overcome gambling addiction

What Is a Compulsive Gambler? 

A compulsive gambler is a person who can’t decide when to stop. They enter a state of euphoria whilst playing which makes them feel alive. This feeling becomes addictive, and they start to crave it. The need to experience this rush overpowers their better judgement and they simply cannot control themselves no matter how hard they try. 

The reasons people become gambling addicts are complex. Those with addiction problems in their families are more susceptible. Mental health issues such as anxiety, depression, and low self-esteem may also play a part. To put it bluntly, gambling can change your brain chemistry. It releases endorphins, which is why it feels so good. 

A compulsive gambler might seem irrational to you, but to them, chasing losses seems like the only way to get out of a hole. Their obsession clouds their judgement and makes it impossible for them to see sense. 

If you or someone you know has a problem with gambling, this guide explains what you can do about it. Whether you wish to help a loved one or you need advice on how to deal with a gambling addiction yourself, this page will point you in the right direction. We discuss behavioral therapies, support groups, medications, and other ways you can get help today. 

A Gambler’s High Functioning Addiction

Gambling addiction affects people from all walks of life. It does not discriminate based on race, gender, age, sexual orientation, religion, or socioeconomic background. Problem gambling ruins the lives of millions of people every year, and many hide their affliction well. These individuals function perfectly in daily life, holding down good jobs, maintaining healthy relationships, and enjoying successful careers. However, behind closed doors, they destroy their lives through excessive gambling. 

A high functioning gambler can be incredibly difficult to spot because they lead seemingly normal lives. They go to work each day, pay their bills on time, and take care of their family. You would never suspect that they spend every spare moment chasing a loss at the or placing countless sports bets online. 

It isn’t until their finances have dwindled or they commit illegal acts in order to feed their habit that their problem becomes apparent. If you think you or someone you love is a high functioning gambler, seek help before things spiral completely out of control. 

Do I Have a Gambling Problem?

Do any of the following questions prompt immediate thoughts of denial or anger? If so, they often indicate signs of problem gambling:

  • “Do I sometimes gamble beyond my means?”
  • “Am I often preoccupied with Substance Use?”
  • “Have I ever used Substance Use as a means of disappearing from worries and responsibilities?”
  • “Do I gamble to escape from mental or physical pain, or from upsetting or boring environmental situations?”
  • “After a loss, do I feel that I must win back what I have lost immediately?”
  • “After a win, do I feel that I must win more?”
  • “Do I rely on Substance Use to restore my composure after gambling?”
  • “Have relatives, friends, co-workers or employers ever suspected me of having a Substance Use problem?”
  • “Have I ever stolen money to gamble with?”
  • “Have I missed work or not performed my duties well because of gambling?”
  • “Have I caused financial problems for my family because of my gambling?”
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Adapted from the Gamblers Anonymous Questions Survey.

Answering ‘yes’ to some of these questions does not necessarily mean that you or a loved one is a full blown gambling addict. However, it does indicate the existence of a problem that seriously requires your attention. You should view it as a sign to seek help now, before things get worse. 

How to Help a Gambling Addict 

If you’re reading this page because you believe that your partner, parent, child, sibling, friend, or colleague has a gambling problem and you want to know , the first step is to educate yourself on the subject. As previously mentioned, problem gambling affects people from all walks of life. It could be tearing your loved one apart behind closed doors. 

Treatment for gambling addiction varies depending on the individual and the nature of their problem. So, we cannot tell you exactly how to help a gambling addict. However, there are certain actions you can take. 

  • Learn as much as you can about gambling addiction – Read articles, books, and speak to professionals. The more you understand, the better equipped you will be to assist the gambler. 
  • Encourage the gambler to admit they have a problem – Many problem gamblers refuse to accept they have an issue. Convincing them that they need help can be challenging but you must keep trying. 
  • Organize an intervention - This may involve close friends and family members. Express your concerns in a calm manner and ask the gambler to seek help. 
  • Offer your support - Let the gambler know that you are there for them. Encourage them to attend therapy sessions and go to support group meetings with them if possible. 
  • Set boundaries - You cannot change the gambler but you can protect yourself. If the problem gambler steals from you or lies constantly, set boundaries and stick to them. 
  • Seek help for yourself - Watching a loved one destroy their life through excess gambling can be harrowing. Consider joining a support group for friends and family of gamblers so you can receive advice from like-minded individuals. 
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How to Deal with a Gambling Addiction 

Dealing with a gambling addiction can be done in various ways. Everyone’s path to recovery is different, so it is important that you find the right form of treatment for you. Inpatient versus outpatient treatment, behavioral therapies, medication, peer support groups, self-help resources, counseling, and practical strategies for staying away from gambling - there are lots of options. 

Every person struggling with a gambling problem should conduct research and explore all possibilities before choosing a course of action. You should also consult with medical and health care professionals to ensure that you choose the most appropriate method or combination of methods for dealing with a gambling addiction. 

In the sections below, we look at the various types of remedies available to compulsive gamblers. Some may suit you and some may not, so it is important to read around the subject. 

Medications for Treating Gambling Addiction 

Can gambling addiction be cured with medication? There is no FDA-approved pill specifically designed to treat pathological gambling. However, certain drugs are sometimes prescribed off-label to help with related symptoms such as depression, anxiety, and impulse control disorders. 

Medications commonly suggested to gambling addicts include:

  • Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs) – Used to treat depression, anxiety, and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). 
  • Mood Stabilizers - Prescribed to prevent mood swings and reduce the risk of irrational behavior. 
  • Naltrexone - Sometimes recommended for people with co-occurring alcohol addictions. 

While prescription drugs can help alleviate some of the symptoms associated with gambling addiction, they should not be viewed as a cure. Furthermore, all come with potential side effects and should only be taken under medical supervision. 

Does NRT Work for Gambling Addiction? 

will not help a gambling addict quit Substance Use. Nicotine patches, gum, lozenges, inhalers, and sprays are solely developed to assist tobacco users kick the habit. 

According to the US Department of Health and Human Services, between 40.3% and 70.0% of people with addiction problems also smoke cigarettes. As such, many will consider using NRT products in a bid to quit tobacco and Boost their general health and wellbeing. 

Any increase in overall health can certainly aid the process of recovering from gambling addiction. But NRT products will not magically cure a gaming obsession. Only proven treatments for gambling addiction will do that. 

Behavioural Therapies for Compulsive Gamblers 

What is the most effective treatment for a compulsive gambler? While medication can help alleviate certain symptoms associated with gambling addiction, the most effective forms of treatment tend to be behavioural therapies. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Motivational Enhancement Therapy (MET), 12-step programs, and mindfulness training are just some of the techniques employed by healthcare providers to help gambling addicts overcome their urges and learn how to deal with a gambling addiction on a daily basis. 

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) for Gambling Addiction 

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a form of talk therapy that enables patients to identify negative thought patterns and replace them with positive ones. It has been proven to be very effective when it comes to treating gambling addiction. During CBT, therapists help clients analyse the negative thoughts that drive them to gamble. They then teach coping strategies and skills required to avoid triggers and prevent relapse. 

CBT typically involves the following steps:

  1. Assessment – Patients meet with a therapist to discuss the nature of their problem. At this stage, the practitioner determines the scope and goals of therapy, and identifies any underlying conditions such as anxiety and depression. 
  2. Identifying Problems – The patient learns to identify negative beliefs and the unhelpful thoughts that trigger compulsive behaviour. 
  3. Understanding the Thought Process – The patient begins to appreciate the link between thoughts, feelings, and behaviours. 
  4. Challenging Negative Thoughts – The patient learns to evaluate the evidence behind negative thoughts and replace them with positive, balanced thoughts. 
  5. Developing Positive Coping Strategies – The patient develops coping strategies to deal with situations that may normally trigger the urge to gamble. This could include relaxation techniques, exercise, and finding healthy distractions. 
  6. Relapse Prevention – The patient learns to recognize the signs of relapse and employs strategies learned during therapy to get back on track. 
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How long does CBT last? That depends on the severity of the gambling addiction. In many cases, it takes several weeks or months to tackle the root causes of the problem and give the patient the tools they need to stay strong once they leave the care environment. 

Motivational Enhancement Therapy (MET) for Gambling Addiction 

What is Motivational Enhancement Therapy (MET)? Developed initially to help people give up drinking and drugging, MET is a client-centred counseling style aimed at helping gamblers resolve their ambivalence towards changing their behavior. 

Compulsive gamblers often struggle with motivation. On one hand, they want to stop gambling and sort their lives out. On the other hand, they are terrified of what life will be like without gambling. MET seeks to strengthen the former motives whilst mitigating the latter. 

MET usually involves the following steps:

  1. Brief Assessment – The patient completes a brief screening to determine the extent of their problem and identify any underlying mental health conditions. 
  2. Feedback – The therapist provides feedback on any inconsistencies between the patient’s behaviors and their values and goals. 
  3. Strengthening Motivation – The therapist helps the patient identify pros and cons of continuing to gamble and explore the costs associated with their behavior. 
  4. Resolving Ambivalence – The patient explores alternative, healthier behaviours and ways of thinking about themselves and others. 
  5. Goals and Planning – The patient sets realistic goals and devises a plan of action supported by the therapist. 
  6. Monitoring and Evaluation – The patient tracks progress towards their goals and evaluates the effectiveness of their plan. 

How long does Motivational Enhancement Therapy take? Sessions generally last between 30 minutes and two hours. Patients typically attend weekly for a few months before reducing the frequency of appointments. 

Mindfulness Training for Compulsive Gamblers 

Mindfulness meditation is another therapeutic technique sometimes employed to help gambling addicts. By practicing mindfulness, patients learn to focus their minds on the present moment whilst acknowledging and accepting their feelings rather than judging them. 

This discipline allows gamblers to distance themselves from impulses and emotions that normally drive them to the tables or the latest online slots. When a compulsive gambler meditates regularly, they build resilience and develop coping mechanisms that serve them well outside of a formal setting. 

Mindfulness practices are generally very simple and easy to perform. A typical session will involve sitting or lying down in a quiet place and focusing on breathing, bodily sensations, sounds, or visualisations. Many people find it helpful to use a guided meditation app. 

Support Groups for Gambling Addiction 

Support groups are essential for anyone suffering from a gambling addiction. Meetings provide a safe space where sufferers can share their experiences and emotions with like-mind individuals in complete confidence. Listening to other people’s stories can make you feel less alone, while offering advice and words of encouragement can make a huge difference to someone else battling addiction. 

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There are plenty of support groups for people with gambling addictions. The two main organisations are Gamblers Anonymous (GA) and Gam-Anon. GA meetings are open to anyone who feels they have a gambling problem, while Gam-Anon is specifically targeted at the friends and family members of gambling addicts. 

Attending Gamblers Anonymous Meetings 

Gamblers Anonymous (GA) is a twelve-step programme patterned after Alcoholics Anonymous. Since its formation in 1957, GA has expanded dramatically and is now active in virtually every country around the world. According to the organisation’s official website, there are over 2,000 Gamblers Anonymous groups in the USA alone and over 180 countries worldwide with more than 20 meetings per location on average. 

GA is a fellowship of men and women who have joined together to solve their common problem - an obsession with gambling. The primary purpose of Gamblers Anonymous is to share their experience, strength and hope with other compulsive gamblers in order to inspire them to remain abstinent. 

GA is a spiritual programme, not a religious one. It welcomes people of all religions and creeds, or none at all. It offers a twelfth step suggestion of working with a sponsor and becoming part of the GA Fellowship. 

Attending Gamblers Anonymous meetings is totally free of charge. There are no membership requirements, and the organization does not keep records or statistics of attendees. 

Gam-Anon Support Group Meetings Online and Offline 

Friends and family members of gambling addicts often suffer in silence. They try to help their loved one, but it can be very distressing to watch them destroy their own lives through compulsive gambling. 

Founded in 1957, Gam-Anon is a twelve-step fellowship for the wives, husbands, family members, and friends of men and women who have, or are believed to have, a gambling problem. The only requirement for membership is that your life has been negatively affected by someone else’s gambling. 

Gam-Anon is not affiliated with any religion or religious organisation. It does not engage in fundraising, and attendance at meetings is absolutely free of charge. 

You will find Gam-Anon meetings across America and around the globe. The organization’s website contains a wealth of information, including meeting lists and literature ordering details. You can also contact Gam-Anon via the online contact form if you require further assistance. 

Gambling Therapy Online Support Community 

Gambling Therapy is a global service offered free of charge to anyone affected by problem gambling. The project is funded by the British Columbia Responsible Gaming Foundation. It features an online support community in conjunction with a directory of professional resources and a range of informative articles and videos. 

The Gambling Therapy online support community is moderated 24/7 by trained professionals. It offers a completely anonymous environment where sufferers can connect with like-minded individuals, share their stories, offer advice, and gain support. 

To access the online support community, click on the Chat Safe image below:

How to Help a Gambling Addict Family Member or Friend

If you have a gambling addict family member or friend, you probably have mixed feelings about this person. On one hand, you love them and want them to be happy and healthy. But on the other hand, their gambling problem may have caused you considerable stress, sadness, worry, fear, guilt, embarrassment, and possibly even thousands of dollars worth of damage. 

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Many family members and friends of problem gamblers experience what is known as ‘secondary trauma’. This refers to the emotional duress experienced by those close to a victim of crime or abuse. In the context of gambling addiction, secondary trauma can result in symptoms similar to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), including anxiety, depression, irritability, insomnia, and physiological responses to reminders of the gambling problem. 

In light of this, it is imperative that friends and family members of gambling addicts seek support. Joining a group like Gam-Anon is highly recommended. It allows you to talk to others in similar situations and learn practical strategies for dealing with the impact of problem gambling on your life. 

Self-Help for Gambling Addiction 

Can gambling addiction be cured without help? It is possible for a gaming addict to overcome their problem without seeking professional assistance, but it is not advisable. Speaking to a qualified therapist or joining a support group significantly increases your chances of success. 

That being said, there are certain things you can do to help combat gambling addiction. The following tips are by no means a substitute for formal treatment, but they could prove useful as part of a wider strategy to beat a gambling addiction: 

  • Remove Temptation - If seeing adverts for online casinos or betting sites triggers the urge to gamble, block them. Close all gaming accounts and self-exclude from online sites. Delete mobile apps from your phone. Ask friends and family members to help you dispose of printed marketing materials. 
  • Find Alternative Distractions - Identify alternate activities that take your mind off the desire to gamble. This could be anything from taking a walk in the park to learning a new skill or spending time with loved ones. 
  • Stay Busy - Idle hands are the devil’s plaything. Try to keep yourself busy with productive tasks, exercise and other positive pursuits. 
  • Manage Stress - Learn how to manage stress levels in a healthy way. This could include regular exercise, deep breathing exercises, meditation, yoga, or getting a massage. 
  • Sleep Well - Lack of sleep can make you irritable, stressed, and anxious. Create a soothing bedtime routine and stick to a regular sleep schedule. 
  • Eat Well - A balanced diet can boost serotonin levels, improving your mood and energy. Try to eat five portions of fruit and veg each day, and limit processed foods, salt, and sugar. 
  • Stay in Touch - Make sure you have a good support network. Talk to people you trust, whether that be in person, over the phone, or online. 
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These self-help tactics may not cure a gambling addiction, but they could certainly provide some relief and act as a supportive measure alongside proper treatment. 

Riveredge Terrace Treatment Center Review 

is located in Frankfort, Kentucky. It offers residential treatment for adults aged 18+ suffering from drug and alcohol addiction, as well as co-occurring mental health conditions. 

Programmes are delivered in a homely environment by Master’s and Bachelor’s Level Clinicians, Registered Nurses, and Ky Certified Recovery Specialists. Typical length of stay is 28 days, although this can vary according to the needs of each patient. 

Evidence-based approaches incorporated into the Riveredge Terrace program include: 

  • Individual Counseling - One hour of individual counseling per week 
  • Group Counseling - Three three-hour group sessions per week covering a variety of topics 
  • Family Therapy - Regular family therapy and educational sessions 
  • Medication Management - Regular assessments to determine if medication is required to complement the therapeutic process 
  • 12-Step Meetings - Transportation provided to local 12-step program meetings 
  • Holistic Care - Art therapy, music therapy, yoga, meditation, and mindfulness exercises 

Facilities at the centre are designed to resemble a large house, with communal living spaces and bedrooms sleeping up to four people. Each room has its own bathroom, and there is a dining area, kitchen, outdoor seating, and games room. 

Activities at the centre include cooking, baking, arts and crafts, movie nights, bowling, and shopping trips. Patients are encouraged to help with meal preparation and upkeep of the premises. 

Insurance may be accepted at River Edge Terrace. You can call the centre directly to discuss your needs and arrange a tour of the facilities. 

How to Block Gambling Ads and Sites Online 

The internet makes it much easier for gambling addicts to satisfy their cravings. With hundreds of online casinos, sportsbooks, and poker sites at their fingertips, compulsive gamblers can play slots, roulette, blackjack, and other games without leaving the comfort of their own homes. 

For problem gamblers, blocking gambling ads and sites is crucial. It doesn’t solve the root of the problem, but it does make it harder to gamble and reduces the likelihood of impulse decisions. 

We have created a comprehensive guide on how to block gambling websites and adverts. It contains detailed information on how to block gambling sites and ads across all major browsers and devices. Check it out here:

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Gambling Addiction Helplines 

If you are worried about your or a loved one’s gambling habits, there is plenty of help available. Many problem gambling organizations provide confidential helplines staffed by trained advisors. Callers can discuss their situation confidentially and benefit from practical advice and emotional support. 

Helpline numbers vary from country to country. We have collated some key contacts below to get you started: 

United States Gambling Addiction Helplines 

  • National Council on Problem Gambling
    • Toll Free: 1-800-522-4700
    • Chat Online: Talk with Trey here
  • Gamblers Anonymous
    • Main Buro: ( 212 244-7171 )**
    • Alfred Sanmarco, Area Delegate New York: ( 718 760-1800**) NYNJAreaNY.org**
    • Atlanta Intergroup: ( 404 525-1800**) GeorgiaGA.org**
    • Los Angeles: ( 323 461-3838**) GaLA.org**
    • Portland: ( 503 231-7174**) OregonLive.com**
  • Gam-Anon
    • Help Line: ( 718 352-1717**) Gam-anon.org 

Canadian Gambling Addiction Helplines 

  • Province of Ontario Problem Gambling Helpline
    • Toll-free: 1-888-230-3505 
  • Alberta Health Services Problem Gambling Helpline
    • Toll-free: 1-877-737-7785 
  • British Columbia Partners in Courage Program
    • Toll-free: 1-866-789-0123 
  • Quebec Overcoming Problem Gambling
    • Toll-free: 1-800-461-0140 

UK Gambling Addiction Helplines 

  • Gambling Therapy General Helpline
    • Tel: 0330 223 0099
    • Email:
  • Gamblers Anonymous National Helpline
    • Tel: 0330 094 0370
  • Gambling Treatment Online
    • Webchat:

European Gambling Addiction Helplines 

  • Gambling Therapy Helpline - Europe
    • **Tel: **0330 223 0099 (England) / 0818 220 084 (Ireland) / 0203 8681462 (International) / ** Email: **
  • Stödlinjen (Sweden)
    • Tel:** 020-8 20 44 00** (Stockholm) / 031-16 62 000 (Göteborg) / 040-674 58 00 (Uppsala) / Find more local numbers: 
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  • Service de prévention et d'aide aux joueurs mal avisés (France)
    • Tél : 01 45 50 53 70 
  • Centra di Informazione Gioca Sin tu (Italy)
    • Tel: 800 662899 

Australian Gambling Addiction Helplines 

  • Gambling Helpline
    • Tel: 1800 858 858 (Free call within Australia) 
  • Gamblers Anonymous
    • National Service Phone: 1 323 901 4262 

Irish Gambling Addiction Helplines 

  • Gambling Control Bureau (Ireland)
    • Gambling Filter Exclusion Scheme: 1800 222 008
    • Gambling Filter Self Exclusion: 1800 854 854
  • Gamblers Anonymous Dublin
    • Meeting Information: 087 650 4545

New Zealand Gambling Addiction Helplines 

  • Problem Gambling Foundation
    • Free Phone: 0800 673 746 (New Zealand Only) 
  • Gamblers Anonymous New Zealand
    • National Service Phone: 64 9-520 1800 

South African Gambling Addiction Helplines 

  • National Gambling Council
    • Free Phone: 0800 11 1011
  • Lifeline South Africa
    • Free Phone: 0861 4181224

Additional International Resources 

  • Gambling Therapy
    • Online Resources & Support: