Battling addiction and ready for treatment?
How Can I Recover From Gambling Addiction?
Recovery from gambling addiction typically includes abstinence from gambling behavior, overall improvement in mental health, and a commitment to treatment and aftercare like support groups or ongoing therapy.
While recovery from gambling addiction is possible, many people misunderstand what “recovery” means and confuse it with a “cure.”
There is still no cure for the disease of gambling addiction. Instead, recovery is more similar to the term “remission.” Maintaining recovery takes consistent vigilance and strategies to avoid situations that endanger your recovery.
With the proper treatment, support, and commitment to abstaining from gambling, gambling addicts can live fulfilling, happy lives.
5 Essential Steps For Gambling Addiction Recovery
Recovery from gambling addiction can sometimes be challenging but tends to follow a predictable pattern.
By learning about these steps, gambling addicts and their loved ones can visualize the path to recovery and understand each stage of the recovery journey.
Step 1: Acknowledge the Problem
Acknowledging that there is a problem is often the most difficult step for gambling addicts to reach, especially if they’ve been deep in gambling addiction for years or decades.
It’s also common for problem gamblers to deny their addiction and resist any suggestion to get help.
There’s no perfect solution for overcoming this hurdle, as the addict must be honest with themselves and be ready to receive help. However, that doesn’t mean giving up; loved ones should still continue pointing out negative consequences and offering help when possible.
Step 2: Seek Professional Help
Professional help for gambling addiction can come in many forms, depending on the severity of the gambling addiction, the individual’s background, and any co-occurring mental or substance use disorders.
Although people often wait until hitting “rock bottom,” delaying professional help may only worsen gambling addiction’s emotional, physical, and financial toll.
Notably, not all gambling addicts require rehab. Most will succeed through attending a support group or talking to a counselor specializing in gambling addiction treatment.
Typical resources available when seeking professional help for gambling addiction include:
- Rehab: Gambling addiction treatment typically won’t require traditional inpatient rehab but may be necessary in cases where the addict is at risk of harming themselves or others.
- Counseling/Therapy: Counseling or psychotherapy is the most common treatment for gambling addiction, specifically cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT).
- Support Groups: Support groups (led by a professional) can help gambling addicts during and after treatment by providing peer support and safe spaces to discuss the challenges of recovery.
Step 3: Get Outside Support
Even with professional help, outside support is essential to gambling addiction recovery. Outside support can come from friends, family, coworkers, or mentors, whether listening without judgment or giving the addict a ride to treatment.
Outside support can help the gambling addict stay motivated in treatment and hold them accountable for recovery.
Step 4: Follow Through With Treatment
Regardless of the treatment plan, following through with gambling addiction treatment is essential for recovery.
Addicts may feel tempted to stop attending treatment as soon as they start feeling better, unaware that they are still in a vulnerable place in their recovery.
By seeing treatment through to the end, gambling addicts will get the full benefits of their therapy and learn relapse prevention skills to increase the chances of long-term recovery from problem gambling.
Step 5: Have an Aftercare Plan
Returning to your old life, toxic friends, and risky situations fresh out of treatment will put you at serious risk of quick relapse.
Aftercare plans address this risk by helping gambling addicts continue and build upon what they’ve learned in treatment.
Common types of gambling addiction aftercare include:
- Individual counseling
- Relapse prevention skill-building
- 12-step programs
- Support groups
- Find new hobbies
- Set goals for your life
- Focus on physical and mental health
- Removing toxic friends and avoiding triggering places like casinos
Types of Gambling Addiction Recovery Tools
Luckily, there are many evidence-based recovery tools available for treating gambling addiction. Each tool for recovery has its own uses and benefits depending on the unique needs of the problem gambler.
Even if one option doesn’t work for you, another recovery option might be life-changing.
Gambling Addiction Support Groups and Self-Help Groups
Support groups and self-help groups for gambling addiction can help strengthen the skills learned in treatment and provide a space for addicts to open up about emotions and challenges.
Some self-help groups using the 12-step method can be like their own treatment program.
For addicts who lack outside support during treatment, support groups can provide the emotional support necessary to recover from gambling addiction successfully.
Gambling Addiction Therapy and Counseling for Recovery
Therapy and counseling are integral parts of gambling addiction recovery.
Behavioral therapies like cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) are especially effective, as they help patients directly address the behaviors that lead to problem gambling.
CBT works by helping addicts spot thought patterns that lead to addictive behaviors, thus learning to change those thoughts to more productive ones.
Gambling addiction therapy can also help patients work on other issues that contribute to problem gambling or co-occurring mental health issues like bipolar disorder or impulse control disorders.
Gambling Addiction Hotlines
BRIEF description of what this option entails + benefits (focus more on the benefits toward overall recovery so we aren’t repeating stuff from other pages)
Gambling addiction hotlines provide in-the-moment support to people who are ready to begin recovery, are at risk of relapse, or have questions about gambling addiction. These hotlines are usually free, confidential, and can point you to trusted resources.
The National Problem Gambling Helpline at 1-800-GAMBLER provides the most popular gambling addiction hotline. They also have a free, confidential helpline chat available 24/7 in all 50 states.
Gambling Addiction Self-Help Books and Resources
Self-help books and instruction workbooks are great supplements for treatment and are often recommended by support groups and self-help groups.
Research has shown that gambling addicts who read self-help material tend to have a higher rate of continued recovery.
Self-help books can help by offering new perspectives on gambling addiction and new gambling addiction research and methods, keeping addicts engaged and committed to continued recovery.
Gambling Addiction Rehab for Recovery
While rehab is not typically needed for treating gambling addiction, it can be helpful in some cases.
For example, compulsive gamblers with dual diagnoses of substance use disorder or mental illnesses (i.e., bipolar disorder, borderline personality disorder, or impulse control disorders) may benefit from a rehab program.
Gambling addiction rehab can vary between inpatient and outpatient options, depending on the needs of the addict.
Inpatient rehab, while rare for treating gambling addiction, removes the patient from normal life, allowing them to focus on recovery without any temptations.
Outpatient rehab for gambling addiction doesn’t require a residential stay but still provides intensive treatment through individual and group therapy.
Starting Your Journey to Gambling Addiction Recovery
If you or a family member are ready to stop gambling and enjoy recovery benefits, treatment options are available to help you start your journey.
Get started by talking to your healthcare provider, therapist, or addiction specialist about what treatment plan best suits your needs.
The National Council on Problem Gambling’s Helpline is another great resource for gambling addiction recovery—it’s free, confidential, and available 24/7 in all 50 states. You can reach the helpline by calling 1-800-GAMBLER or through their helpline chat.
If you’re ready to enter professional treatment, you can find a gambling addiction treatment center near you by using SAMHSA’s online treatment locator or calling 1-800-662-4357 (HELP).
FAQs About Gambling Addiction Recovery
What is the recovery rate for gambling addiction?
Unfortunately, few gambling addicts seek professional help, and research on gambling disorder recovery rate is lacking. The recovery organization Gamblers Anonymous has reported that 50–70% of its attendees experience sustained recovery.
What are the best ways to recover from a gambling addiction?
The best ways to recover from gambling addiction depend on age, background, substance abuse, and co-occurring mental health disorders. Each addict is unique, and their journey to recovery will be just as unique.
That being said, counseling is the most common and effective treatment for gambling addiction. Because compulsive gambling is a behavioral addiction, behavioral therapies can help reset the person’s thought patterns and habits.
Can your brain recover from problem gambling?
Yes, with the proper treatment and support, your brain can recover from gambling addiction.
Gambling addiction often occurs once the brain becomes dependent on the release of dopamine that gambling triggers. Thankfully, this dependence can be resolved through treatment.
Behavioral therapies work especially well for gambling addicts by helping them address unhealthy thought patterns or behaviors that lead to problem gambling.
How is gambling addiction treated?
Gambling addiction is most often treated through therapy, but some addicts may also benefit from rehab, support groups, self-help groups, and reading self-help material. The support of loved ones can also strengthen the effect of treatment.
Can gambling addiction be cured?
No. Gambling addiction is an incurable brain disease. However, with the right treatment plan, addicts can learn to manage addictive behaviors better and stop relying on gambling.
Although recovery isn’t perfect, and road bumps are common, addicts can recover by sticking with treatment and committing to a gambling-free life.