To begin recovering from your gambling disorder, you need to accept that you have a progressive disease more powerful than yourself.
Admitting this is difficult. Admitting your powerlessness over gambling directs you down another path. It enables you to pursue a different lifestyle. This first step is critical if you want to begin pursuing a life towards serenity.
Most people misunderstand gambling disorders. Have you heard any of these statements about gambling?
Most of your friends and family don’t understand the compulsion or urge to gamble. They have no idea of the devastation a gambling addiction brings.
A gambling disorder impacts you physically, psychologically, emotionally and spiritually. It’s a chronic illness where you lose control over gambling and start to disregard all the consequences brought on by gambling.
Gambling addiction has been referred to as a brain disorder. Research shows gambling addicts exhibit some of the same brain functions as cocaine or meth addicts.
Left: A brain on cocaine. Right: A brain on gambling. Studies show the brain chemistry is frighteningly similar.
Source: Whyte, Keith S. Gambling & Other Behavioral Addictions. Presentation to Arlington County Community Services Board. Nov 28, 2016.
Operating under our own willpower to overcome addiction is futile.
Many gamblers know they have a problem long before they reach out for help. They really don’t want to continue doing what they’re doing, but they just can’t stop.
They lose all their money. They may lose their home, farm, or job. They hurt their families and friends. They may face eviction, homelessness, even jail, and some begin contemplating suicide. They make several attempts to stop gambling only to find themselves back gambling once again.
To face your gambling disorder, you must be open to understanding you are suffering from something much more powerful than willpower.
You have a disease; one that cannot be cured. But the good news is that a gambling addiction is diagnosable and treatable. You can get this disease into remission and resume a healthy, fulfilling life.
You did not choose to become addicted. But you can choose to stop your addiction. You know you have a gambling disorder, so now it’s your responsibility to get it into remission. Admitting a problem is the first step to doing just that.
You are not alone. There are others who are experiencing the same things as you. Don’t allow feelings of shame or embarrassment become obstacles to your recovery. Reach out for help and get the support you need to overcome your disease. You can and do deserve a life filled with honesty, happiness and peace.
1 in 20 people who gamble become addicted.