How many times have you gone to Gambler's Anonymous? For many, the weekly meetings are their lifeline where they are inspired, refreshed, reminded, and renewed. It is the place that keeps them grounded and prevents them from relapsing back into their old destructive behaviors.
But maybe you only went once, twice, maybe a few more times, and decided that GA was not really for you. Maybe you believe that you really can quit gambling anytime that you want to. Admittedly, you have quit countless times in the past and then slipped, but the next time will be different, right?
"The idea that somehow, some day, we will control our gambling is the great obsession of every compulsive gambler," according to Gamblers Anonymous. "The persistence of this illusion is astonishing. Many pursue it into the gates of prison, insanity or death."
Compulsive gambling is an uncontrollable urge to keep gambling despite the toll that it takes on ones life, according to the Mayo Clinic. Just like drugs and alcohol, gambling for some people stimulates the brain's reward system and leads to addiction. "Compulsive gambling is a serious condition that can destroy lives."
If gambling has caused growing and continuing problems in your life and you are hiding your gambling from friends and family, depleting your savings, accumulating debt, or have resorted to fraud or theft to keep gambling, it's time that you stop trying to go it alone.
There are a number of resources available to help you. You can start by getting in touch with self-help groups in your area, including local chapters of Gamblers Anonymous. Attending meetings regularly puts you in a healthy atmosphere with other compulsive gamblers in remission, and you will draw strength from others by talking to people who are going through the same thing that you are.
At meetings, you can reach out and ask for help without being judged, and as a benefit, you will help others in return. When others hear your story and struggles, they'll be reminded of who they are, where they've been, and what they need to do to remain free from compulsive gambling.
Attending meetings can also benefit you in other ways that you will carry with you for the rest of your life. As the website says, "Only the first step is about stopping gambling. The remaining 11 steps are about how to create a new life where it's easier not to gamble. They are about how to be happier in life."
In addition to self-help groups, many gamblers receive individual counseling, and your primary physician may be able to prescribe medication, such as antidepressants or narcotic antagonists, to help address co-occurring conditions that often go along with compulsive gambling.
There are addiction treatment centers that focus exclusively on gambling addictions that offer outpatient, inpatient, and residential gambling addiction treatment programs.
Although treating compulsive gambling can be challenging, many people who struggle with it have found help through professional treatment. "If your family or your employer pressured you into therapy, you may find yourself resisting treatment. But treating a gambling problem can help you regain a sense of control — and perhaps help heal damaged relationships or finances" (Mayo Clinic)