Time to Stop Gambling? 3 Steps to a New You in the New Year

An estimated 40% of Americans make New Year’s resolutions–yet research suggests just about 8% of those folks achieve their goals. So if your goal for 2016 is to cut back or eliminate unhealthy gambling behavior, how can you give yourself the best foundation for success?

1. Reach out for professional help. 

Some gamblers may be able to reduce their behavior with goal setting or lifestyle changes—many others need the guidance of a professional counselor to curb the cravings to bet. This progressive condition, which is formally classified as an addictive disorder, alters how the brain makes decisions, just as alcohol and other drugs change a substance abuser’s brain.

A professional therapist—one specifically trained to work with this addiction—offers the tools and resources to help a problem gambler retrain his or her brain. Therapists for compulsive gambling often use cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), a form of talk therapy, as the foundation for healing. It’s typically used in conjunction with other therapies, such as family/marriage counseling, financial counseling, alternative therapies (like equine therapy), and support groups, like Gamblers Anonymous.

Find Problem Gambling Treatment Providers in Lancaster and Lebanon.

2. Make lifestyle changes.
Stress is one of the most common triggers for unhealthy gambling behaviors. If you can lower stress in a healthier way, it will help reduce the urge to wager. Different stress relief techniques work for different people, so you may need to try a few different activities until you find the strategy that works best. Activities that help reduce stress include:

  • Meditation;
  • Physical exercise;
  • Mind-body exercise (yoga or martial arts);
  • Creative activities (writing, crocheting, woodworking, or painting);
  • Outdoor activities (walking, hiking, or gardening);
  • New hobbies (music lessons, art classes).

3. Self-exclude yourself from gambling in PA.
The state of Pennsylvania allows gamblers to voluntarily ban themselves from gambling in licensed facilities. People who violate their self-exclusion agreement can be arrested and charged with trespassing. Visit PA’s Self-Exclusion FAQs for details. While adding your name to the list isn’t a cure for gambling addiction, it can help you avoid the temptation to bet at casinos or racetracks.

Since each state has its own self-exclusion process, you may need to add your name to lists in more than one state. For more information, visit Maryland Gaming Resources and New Jersey Self-Exclusion Program.

Take a positive step into 2016!

For problem gambling prevention education, resources, and treatment referrals, contact Compass Mark at 717-299-2831 or use our online help form. We’ll guide you into a new year that offers hope and healing.


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