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March offers a terrible temptation for people with compulsive gambling behaviors or a diagnosed gambling addiction. Whether you are currently in treatment for gambling addiction or are in recovery, March Madness has the potential to become a major problem.

Football stadium

How can you avoid these temptations? How can you reduce the risk that you will be in a situated where you may be tempted?

Why is March Madness such a potential problem for compulsive gamblers?

It’s everywhere. March Madness is a huge part of our sports and entertainment culture, with reminders popping up everywhere. Our friends post about it on Facebook and Twitter. Cable TV constantly runs ads for games and products associated with the NCAA. Then there are the brackets at work and among friends, the online fantasy drafts, and more. It can be hard to avoid March Madness, especially if you live in a state where there are successful NCAA teams.

It’s fun. Many compulsive gamblers have fond memories of the NCAA tournament, perhaps from before their gambling addiction became a problem. Those fun memories can make it easy to search out opportunities to place bets on teams, players, and outcomes.

It’s easy to get into. You don’t really have to have the expertise to participate in building a bracket. If you do have an interest in college basketball, you may feel even more prepared to participate, because you feel like your knowledge increases your chances of winning.

How can you avoid the temptation to gamble during March Madness?

You do not have to spend the month of March in a cave, trying to avoid March Madness. However, there are some strategies that our experienced and credentialed on-staff counselors recommend.

  1. Know your triggers. If March Madness is a huge trigger for you and if you are too early in your recovery to navigate it, consider what you may need to do to avoid the trigger altogether. No, that doesn’t mean cutting yourself off from the outside world completely.

However, it may mean talking to your manager at work about not having a bracket this year. It may mean not keeping up with the results as they come in. It may mean opting out of certain online conversations. Your combination of triggers is unique to you, and your plan for dealing with them needs to be, too.

  1. Talk with your support system. Your family, your accountability team, your friends from treatment, and your counselor are some of the people who can support you right now. Name your temptation out loud, and let your friends, loved ones, and counselors get you through this difficult month.
  2. Reach out for help. If you have not received help for your compulsive gambling and have been trying to do it on your own, now is the right time. It is always the right time to ask for help. It may be hard to know what kind of support you need, but a qualified gambling addiction counselor can help you figure out how to overcome the temptations that you may not be able to resist on your own.

How do you ask for help?

We understand that gambling can be an intense and powerful addiction. For those whose participation in gambling is unmanageable, it is incredibly difficult— if not close to impossible— to recover without professional assistance.

At Algamus Gambling Treatment Services, our compulsive gambling treatment program provides that assistance, as well as alternative resources. You can contact us today by filling out this form. We want to help, and we are here for you.

Rick Benson

Written by Rick Benson

Rick founded Algamus Recovery Centers in 1992. A Cornell University graduate, Rick is an Internationally Certified Gambling Counselor (ICGC-II) and a Canadian Problem Gambling Counselor (CPGC). Algamus and Rick were featured on the very first episode of Intervention on the A&E channel.