Gambling turns into a problem when you find it difficult to quit. When financial expenditures exceed available resources and when it starts hurting your physical or mental health, academic or occupational performance, financial stability, and/or interpersonal connections.
Problem gamblers may run up huge credit card bills, take out large loans, and completely disregard their home, work, or school responsibilities. They may refuse to acknowledge they have a problem, insist on chasing their losses, and put everything else in their lives, including themselves, second to gambling.
Recognizing that you have a problem is the first and most important step in recovering from compulsive gambling. Having the will and bravery to admit this, especially if financial resources and personal connections have been depleted, is no small feat.
Don't give up hope, and don't try to handle this on your own. Many people have been in your position before and have been able to successfully kick the habit and go on with their life. And so can you.
Does gambling help you pass the time when you're alone or bored? Or after a fight with your significant other or a particularly trying day at work? Gambling responsibly means you should only gamble for entertainment and relaxation, not as an escape mechanism.
However, exercise, socializing with friends who don't gamble, trying out new hobbies, and adopting relaxation methods are smarter and more beneficial ways to manage your emotions and alleviate boredom.
Reach out for help from loved ones if you're struggling to overcome gambling addiction. If you're on your own and looking to meet some friends, you don't have to rely on casinos or the internet to do it. Reach out to coworkers, join a sporting event or a book club, take a class, or give your time to help others. It's even better to seek professional help.
There are other support groups available. For instance, Gamblers Anonymous uses a 12-step process to help people overcome their addiction. An important part of the program is finding a "sponsor" who is a former gambler who has stayed clean from addiction and can give you advice and support that will help you greatly.
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