Stop Losing Sleep Over Problem Gambling: Do’s and Don’ts for Recovery

Calls from bill collectors. Missed time at work. Arguments over money. Problem gambling is a serious condition that can affect every aspect of life, from relationships to work to finances. If you’re losing sleep over the impact of your gambling behavior, check out these do’s and don’ts for getting back on track:

1. Do educate yourself on problem gambling. Unhealthy gambling behavior doesn’t happen because a person is “bad” or has “no willpower.” Rather it’s a recognized brain disorder that affects an estimated 3-4% of Americans. Research suggests the condition has at least some biological roots similar to those of substance abuse. Understanding the medical nature of the disorder will empower you to find the professional guidance you need to heal.

2. Don’t avoid therapy. You don’t need to white-knuckle your way out of a gambling addiction, and, in fact, many people can’t. A professional therapist trained to work with this disorder will help you identify triggers and develop healthy coping strategies. Find a problem gambling treatment provider in Lancaster, PA or Lebanon, PA.

3. Do work to heal your relationships. Problem gambling affects the people who love you, from kids to parents to best friends. They may feel anger, frustration, guilt, or sadness related to your struggles. Consider marital/family/relationship counseling as a starting point for the healing process. A therapist or counselor will act as a neutral third-party able to help you and loved ones recognize and work through emotions and conflicts in a healthy, productive way.

4. Don’t put yourself in a tempting environment. Keep yourself healthy by avoiding events at casinos or racetracks. Don’t attend parties or gatherings with gambling themes or activities, like poker games. Instead find an alternative activity that will keep you busy during that time. You might also consider adding your name to the PA Self-Exclusion List to ban yourself from entering licensed gaming facilities. Learn more in When Gambling Can Get You Arrested—Casino Self-Exclusion Facts.

5. Do expect setbacks. Recovery, like many journeys in life, isn’t a straight line. Even those who have been in recovery for some time can find themselves fighting gambling urges, particularly when they’re stressed or anxious. When you experience a setback, recognize the mistake—and then continue to move forward.

6. Don’t neglect the value of community. Living with the very real struggle of problem gambling can make a person feel isolated and lonely. Groups like Gamblers Anonymous can provide a foundation for valuable emotional support. Find a meeting here.

You don’t need to struggle under the weight of gambling addiction. Find hope and healing by reaching out for help. Contact Compass Mark; our team will guide you to Lancaster- and Lebanon-area prevention and treatment resources. Fill out an online help form or call (717) 299-2831.


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