Can You Quit Gambling Cold Turkey?

computer keyboard with button that says stop gambling

If you or a loved one is struggling with a gambling problem, you may be wondering whether it’s possible to quit cold turkey. While it may be tempting to go this route, especially if the gambling disorder has had detrimental effects on your family, it’s not the best way to put an end to your betting.

In fact, problem gamblers who quit cold turkey often revert to old habits and feel discouraged that they weren’t able to be successful in their efforts. People suffering from problem gambling cannot “just stop” any more than alcoholics and drug users can stop abusing their drug of choice. Gambling disorders change the makeup of a person’s brain and require professional treatment and recovery plans to overcome the problem.

How to Stop Gambling the Right Way

The first thing you need to realize about quitting gambling is that it’s not a process that occurs overnight. It will require patience and a long-term treatment plan. Fortunately, you can do a few things to make the recovery process easier and receive the help and emotional support you need to break free of your gambling problem.

Seek Professional Help

Attempting to stop gambling can be emotionally draining. You need to be in a carefully controlled environment in order to determine the root cause of your gambling habits and learn how to channel these feelings in a more constructive direction. A therapist can help you discover coping mechanisms and even provide an unbiased listening ear to share your thoughts and gambling experiences.

Use Technology to Your Advantage

Companies are coming out with gambling apps and software to help minimize gambling behaviors. These apps can be downloaded to your devices and will monitor and exclude you from gambling sites. Instead of trying to quit gambling cold turkey, you can use these apps to set financial or time limits on your gambling.

Join a Support Group

Dealing with a gambling problem can feel lonely. It’s not uncommon for friends and family to not completely understand what you are going through. Fortunately, there are support groups available in your area and online. By joining a Gamblers Anonymous meeting, you will receive the support and encouragement you need to stay committed to your recovery plan.

Recognize Your Triggers and Delay Your Response

As a gambler, you will always crave to place a bet, go to the casino, or engage in other gambling activities. It can feel like these cravings are never-ending; however, the truth is that they will stop. You simply need to recognize what brings them on and learn how to ride them out without gambling.

Your therapist can help you identify your triggers and suggest ways to delay your response to the cravings. Engaging in other activities when a craving hits will make you less likely to give in to the temptation. Healthy alternatives to gambling include meditation, spending time with family members, volunteering, and adopting new hobbies.

Find a New Hobby

Many former problem gamblers have found success by replacing their gambling pastimes with other activities. Consider picking up a new hobby to fill your free time. Now could be the perfect time to try kickboxing, painting, playing the guitar, or constructing model airplanes as you’ve always dreamed of doing.

Be Aware of Gambling Withdrawal

Quitting gambling is just as hard as putting an end to your alcohol or drug misuse. This means you will experience both physical and emotional gambling withdrawal symptoms, such as depression, anxiety, headaches, increased heart rates, and nausea. These symptoms may make it feel impossible to overcome your gambling disorder, but with the guidance of a licensed professional, you can experience freedom from your problem.

Seek Help for Your Gambling Problem Today

For most people, it can be almost impossible to quit cold turkey, and it’s even harder to navigate the recovery process alone. Fortunately, several treatment options and programs are available for problem gamblers and their loved ones. Reach out to 1-800-GAMBLER today to discover your options for recovery.


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