Can Pets Help My Path to Gambling Problem Recovery?

smiling man and woman holding dog

Because problem gambling is considered an impulse disorder, it can be challenging to say no to another hand, even when you are already in financial distress. There are many reasons why one person may have problems with gambling and another person doesn’t, but disordered gambling is often associated with mental health disorders. For this reason, many problem gamblers find that owning and caring for a pet can help them be successful in their recovery. 

Let’s look at the reasons you should consider adopting a pet to overcome your gambling problem.

Pets Can Improve Your Mental Health

It’s all too easy to get caught up in your thoughts, and any negative thoughts can spiral and cause you to doubt yourself and your abilities. If you have a gambling problem, you may be driven to the table to quiet these thoughts even though you’re already in a tough financial spot. When you’re a pet owner, you can turn to your dog or cat instead of going to the nearest poker table or hopping online to place bets.

Talking to and petting your animal can calm your anxious thoughts and reduce your stress. You begin to realize that a little animal is dependent on you for survival, so you’re able to put aside your problems and do everything you can to protect their health, safety, and happiness. Being a pet owner can also relieve your depression because caring for a pet gives you a sense of purpose. When you’re in a better mindset, you’re less likely to feel the urge to gamble as a coping mechanism.

Pets Provide Structure to Your Day

Having a consistent schedule can help combat the impulsivity problem gamblers suffer from. It can be a challenge to stick to a schedule when you only have yourself for accountability. A pet can implement the needed structure for you. They will remind you when it’s time to go outside, eat, and sleep. Plus, they will give you a reason to be home at a reasonable hour rather than staying out all night, which can put you in vulnerable situations where you may be tempted to gamble.

Pets Can Get You Moving

When you’re trying to recover from a gambling problem, it’s helpful to form other habits you can use in place of gambling. Exercise is an excellent alternative to gambling because it gets you moving and improves your mood, concentration, and self-control.

Owning a dog makes getting exercise a bit easier because they will remind you when it’s time to go for a walk or run. They can also make the act of exercising more enjoyable because they will always be by your side as a long-term exercise partner.

Pets Allow You to Forge New Friendships

The people you hang out with heavily influence your behavior. If you’re only surrounding yourself with people who like to gamble, it can be hard to say no to another hand even though you need to. If this is happening to you, you may want to get some distance.

Having a pet can allow you to meet new people and form friendships not centered around gambling. Someone you meet while walking your dogs could turn into the person you trust most and who helps facilitate your recovery (whether they know it or not).

Should You Get a Pet for Your Gambling Problem Recovery?

Pet ownership isn’t for everyone, but if you love animals and are currently recovering from a gambling problem, you could benefit from adopting a new companion. Many people instantly think of dogs when they consider animals for therapeutic purposes. However, any animal that you care for can aid in your gambling problem recovery. In addition to a dog, you can choose from:

  • A cat
  • A rabbit
  • A guinea pig
  • A bird
  • A horse

Whichever animal you choose, make sure you’re in a place to care for a pet, even well beyond your recovery. If you’re not sure you’re ready for this responsibility, you can volunteer at an animal shelter or offer to pet sit your friends’ animals.

If you’re looking for additional help for gamblers in New Jersey, we have a variety of resources available to aid in your recovery. We even offer gambling support for families. Call or text 800-GAMBLER today to take back control of your life.


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