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How To Quit Gambling - Quickly, Painlessly and Permanently!

Author: Tim Cosgrove

How To Quit Gambling - Quickly, Painlessly and Permanently!

Book Series: How To Quit

1. Do You Have a Problem?

Do you feel that you have a problem with gambling? If you do, you certainly are not alone. Millions of people in the United States and around the world suffer from such a problem, some to the extent where they will give up everything and even steal in order to keep gambling. Although gambling is a compulsion for many individuals, it is often something that is generally misunderstood. Information that is provided in this book will not only assist you in understanding your desire to gamble, it will provide you with solutions that can help you to overcome it.

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The first thing that we will review is information about why gambling is an addiction. At one time, it was thought to be a matter of low morals or perhaps a lack of self-discipline, but in more recent years it has been determined that it is actually an addiction. It can even affect you in the same way as chemical addictions, such as those to heroin and cocaine. Of course, the exact way that they work on the brain is different, but in many cases, they are similar as well.

People often need to learn about the addiction and why they may be addicted to gambling, in order to understand how to overcome it. We will go further into an explanation of the addiction to gambling, looking at the possibility of it being a genetic disorder. For years, it was thought that there may be a genetic connection that could make you prone to compulsive behavior, such as gambling. In more recent years, however, information has come to light that may prove that the theory is true.

Have you ever heard of triggers that can make it difficult for you to overcome an addiction? These are not only something that is experienced by individuals who smoke cigarettes or do hard drugs; there are also many triggers which can make it more likely for you to gamble. This is especially true if you are already suffering from a gambling addiction. In order for you to overcome the problem, you need to be able to identify those triggers effectively. This book will help you to identify and cope with the gambling triggers that may be causing you problems.

Is a Treatment Program Necessary?

Once you understand that you have a problem with gambling and are looking for a way to overcome it, one of the more common questions that you may ask is in regard to treatment programs. The fact of the matter is that there are many treatment programs available, including some well-known programs, such as Gamblers Anonymous. You may also find that you are able to overcome a problem with gambling through other means, other than one of those recognized treatment centers.

As an example, many people use group therapy to help them with their addictive tendencies, regardless of whether it is an addiction to gambling or an addiction to drugs. You may also find that treatments such as cognitive behavioral therapy will assist you in overcoming the problem, although it is going to take some intervention on the part of a therapist to assist you in this matter. Finally, we will explore some of the ways that you may be able to help yourself, as well as techniques that have helped other individuals to manage stress and overcome their gambling addiction.

As you are likely well aware, there are many problems that can go along with an addiction to gambling. It not only causes financial problems and strained relationships; it can even lead to other serious issues, such as depression and anxiety. Those issues will be addressed in this book, not only so that you can identify them in your life, but also so that you can do something about them.

Gambling is an addiction that far too many people struggle with on a day-to-day basis. If you find that you are struggling, there is help available. Once you are able to get the help that you need to overcome the gambling addiction that you are facing, you will find that life is worth living again.

2. What Is Gambling Addiction

There are many people that gamble, but not all of them have a problem with gambling to the point where it is considered to be an addiction. In this chapter, we will begin to look at some of the signs and symptoms associated with gambling addiction, so that you can diagnose yourself to a certain extent and see if you need help. It is important for you to look at this information with an honest mind and not to try to cover up your addictive behavior, as that would defeat the purpose of self-evaluation.

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One of the factors that are often a problem for individuals who have a gambling addiction is that they are unable to control the type or amount of gambling that they do. People who are casual gamblers may be able to walk up to a blackjack table and play a hand or two, but then walk away before they have spent all of their money. A gambling addict, however, will be unable to stop gambling until all of their money is gone. In fact, they may continue to gamble with higher and higher stakes in an attempt to win back money that they have lost, only to lose it all.

Do you hide the fact that you gamble? It is very common for people who have a gambling addiction to hide the fact that they gamble in the first place. In fact, this is the reason that gambling addiction is often referred to as a hidden illness. There are not any obvious signs or symptoms of the fact that you have the problem, and you may be doing it in secret, perhaps even lying to your friends and family about how much you enjoy gambling or how much you do it. This is often because you feel that people will not understand your behavior, or that you want to surprise them by winning big. In either case, it is a sign of addictive behavior and something that should alert you to the fact that you have a problem.

Some people who gamble recreationally will set limits on how much they will gamble and if they reach those limits, they will stop. An addictive gambler, however, will continue to gamble, even after they have run out of money. Many people who have exhibited this type of behavior not only spend their money, they also run up huge credit card bills in an attempt to win back the money that they have lost. Additionally, some people who have a gambling addiction will even steal money in order to foster their habit. As they continue to exhibit this type of behavior, they will only get further in the hole, and cause distress to themselves and those they care about.

Has anyone ever expressed concern over the fact that you gamble? This is often a problem with individuals who have a gambling issue, and it is also an issue that is known as denial. When a person that has an addiction is in denial, they may recognize the fact that they have a problem. But they will do everything that they can to hide the problem, and to overlook the fact that they need to do something about it.

There are many people that have a gambling problem, but they are not beyond hope. If you understand that you have a problem and are ready to do something about it, you're in a good position to overcome the addiction and to deal with it successfully for the rest of your life. It may be difficult along the way and there are things that may need to be ironed out, but you will find that stopping the gambling addiction is going to be the best thing that you could ever do.

3. Facts about Gambling Addiction

Many people have heard about addictions to chemicals, such as nicotine, alcohol, cocaine and heroin. They recognize the fact that these are serious problems and that an individual needs help when they are suffering from such an addiction. When it comes to gambling addictions, however, it tends to be more of a hidden issue that affects family members, as well as the person that is suffering from the addiction directly.

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As a result of it being out of the mainstream, gambling addiction is often a problem that is misunderstood. Regardless of whether you are a gambler or not, it is important for you to understand the truth about gambling addiction by studying some of the facts that are associated with it. This can help you to see if you have a problem with gambling, or if someone that you care about has a difficulty with this addiction.

Frequency - One of the most common myths about gambling is that most people feel that it is necessary to gamble on an ongoing basis, in order to have an addiction. The fact of the matter is, however, that gambling does not need to be done every day for it to be a problem. In fact, you may gamble infrequently and still have a problem with it. The easiest way for you to recognize if you have a problem with gambling is if gambling causes problems for you. If it does, it is something that needs to be addressed.

Blame -Many of the difficulties that are associated with gambling often cause individuals who are members of the same household or close friends to have a measure of guilt. This is either because they feel that the addition to gambling is their problem for some reason or another, or they may be made to feel as if the gambler is being pushed toward his addiction by their behavior. The fact of the matter is, however, the issues associated with gambling are related to the gambler and his compulsion to take part in this activity.

Finances - As we discussed above, a problem with gambling is defined as an issue when gambling causes you problems. Many people feel that if they have the money to spend on gambling, and if they are not causing any problems when they do so, then they do not have a gambling problem. The fact of the matter is, however, there are many issues that are associated with being addicted to gambling that extend far beyond the financial problems that could occur. If you have the money to gamble and are an addict, it could cause problems with your relationships, whether you have the money or not.

Help - When most people think about helping an addicted gambler, they think about helping them to get the assistance that they need, so that they can stop gambling. That is not the type of help that we are referring to, though. Many people that have an addicted gambler in their life may actually feel that it is their responsibility to help the gambler with their financial situation. This can be a real problem, however, because the compulsions of the addicted gambler will likely cause them to spend all the money that you provide for them, and it will not likely help their financial situation. In fact, it is just a way of placating the individual and perhaps even strengthening the addiction.

Many people that gamble on a regular basis, and have a real problem with it, gamble in order to escape and to find a temporary way to resolve their problems. Like any type of drug addiction, however, this is a solution that brings no real relief, because as soon as the gambling is over, your problems have been compounded. It is necessary for the gambler to find a way to overcome the compulsion and to deal with the stress that they may be experiencing, because that could lead to gambling. This is something that will be discussed further in another chapter in this book.

4. What Causes Addictive Behavior?

When most people think about the addictive behavior that is experienced by those who have a problem with gambling, they consider that it is really just a psychological addiction. Like many types of addictions, you may become accustomed to the feelings that you get when you gamble and it may also cause you to take part in this activity, depending upon your circumstances and the various triggers that may exist.

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For many years, a problem with gambling was not considered to be a real addiction. It was often classified as a compulsion, or in some cases, was even blamed on a low set of morals or a lack of self-discipline. The fact of the matter is, however, there is a lot of evidence to suggest that it is a real addiction. And just like an addiction to a chemical, such as cocaine, addiction to gambling can cause real and measurable problems in the brain.

Understanding the Way That Addiction Works

The brain is a very complex organism and in fact, it truly has no equal that is known in the universe. Inside of our brain are trillions of nerve cells, known as neurons that allow us to think, feel and react. These neurons are separated by a space, known as synapses and the information is passed across the space by the means of information chemicals, known as neurotransmitters.

When we have any thought or feeling, the neurotransmitters are doing their job. They are produced by one neuron and sent across the synapse to another neuron, where they connect in a special receptor that is specific to that brain chemical. This is a process that is taking place 24 hours a day, regardless of whether we realize it or not.

In some cases, the neurotransmitters can teach us things that are important to our survival. One of those chemicals is dopamine, which has an effect on the pleasure center of the brain and gives us pleasurable feelings, when we take part in certain activities. For example, when we eat food or drink water, we have a pleasurable response and this is the brain chemical, dopamine, doing its job. When your body recognizes the fact that it needs food or water, it causes you to have a craving. Subconsciously, you understand that filling the craving is going to cause the pleasurable feeling of dopamine release.

It's long been known that many chemicals that are addictive, including nicotine, alcohol and hard-core drugs, have an effect on the chemicals of the brain. In some cases, those drugs may mimic the brain chemicals directly, resulting in a cascade reaction and causing the pleasure center of the brain to be flooded with dopamine. In other cases, the drugs may hyper-stimulate the neurons, causing a similar effect.

In more recent years, it has been determined that a similar effect takes place when an individual becomes addicted to gambling. The euphoric feeling that gambling addicts experience, when they take part in this activity, is directly related to the release of dopamine and the pleasure that it provides for them on a temporary basis.

A number of studies have been done, which have helped to prove the fact that there is a connection between gambling addiction and dopamine release. One of the more interesting factors that can prove this theory is that many individuals who suffer from Parkinson's disease also suffer from compulsive behavior, including gambling. When you have Parkinson's disease, the cells that are producing dopamine die, and so you are no longer getting the dopamine that you need within your brain. It causes symptoms such as tremors, poor gait and eventually, dementia.

The treatment for Parkinson's disease often includes a medication that is known as levodopa. This is a man-made drug, but it reacts very similarly to dopamine, once it is able to reach the brain. As a result, the symptoms of Parkinson's disease may be reduced during the time that you are taking levodopa, but your compulsive behavior may increase. In fact, a high number of people who suffer from Parkinson's disease have a problem with these compulsions.

Additional Issues with Your Brain Chemicals

One of the primary issues with gambling addiction, as well as with other types of addiction, is the effect on your brain chemicals. There is also another effect that occurs over time, and that is a general breakdown of the receptors in the brain cells that accept dopamine, which is a process known as down regulation. When this occurs, you may have sufficient amounts of dopamine, but it is not causing the same effect. As a result, you continue to fall deeper into your addiction in order to experience the same or similar results.

This may also result in the lack of dopamine release for common, everyday items. Many things that, at one time, may have given us a degree of pleasure, may no longer be pleasurable to us. As we continue to suffer from our addiction, it can make it difficult for us to lead our day-to-day lives without taking part in the activity. It is a vicious cycle that eventually causes a cascade of problems, from a breakdown of relationships to difficulties with our health.

Is Addiction Reversible?

Any type of addiction, regardless of whether you are talking about gambling addiction or drug addiction, is classified as a form of mental illness. When you have this problem, you will never be able to take part in the same behavior again. Just one bout of gambling or just one puff of a cigarette (for those who are addicted to cigarettes) could send you back down the road to addiction and very quickly, you will find yourself back in the same position. In fact, you may even find that your addiction becomes worse if you feed it at a future date.

Does that mean that is impossible to overcome the addictive behavior? Far from it, as many people have been able to abstain from gambling from the time they quit for the rest of their life. It does require, however, that you continually abstain from the behavior and that you never allow yourself to feed the behavior. You may have cravings from time to time and it can be difficult to overcome it, but with the information provided in this book, you will find it much easier to do so.

5. Is Gambling Addiction a Genetic Disorder?

A common question that is asked about addicted gamblers is if they were born to be addicted. It is often wondered if there is a genetic connection that predisposes an individual to this type of behavior, but until recently, there was not any true evidence of that possibility, at least from a scientific standpoint. More recent research, however, has begun to turn up information that you will find interesting, if you feel that you were born to be a gambler.

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A Look at a Complex Disorder

Before we begin to discuss the possibility that compulsive gamblers share a gene that makes it more likely for them to take part in this addictive behavior, it is important to look at many other factors that may exist as well. For example, if you had parents or perhaps only one parent that had a problem with gambling, it may be more likely for you to have the problem as well. Is this an issue with genetics, or is there something else that may be underneath the surface that is causing the problem?

First of all, not everyone who has parents or grandparents that had a problem with gambling are going to take part in this compulsive behavior. Although it is more likely for them to take part in the behavior, it may not be completely the result of genetic issues, which predispose an individual to do it. For example, they may have been raised in an environment that makes it more likely for them to take part in the gambling addiction. In addition, there may be psychological factors because of their upbringing, which would also need to be considered in this regard.

More recently, it has been discovered that individuals who take part in addictive behaviors, including those who are addicted to alcohol and drugs, may actually be able to tie it to a genetic foundation. A gene, which is referred to as the D-2 receptor, is something that exists in certain individuals, and it may cause a problem because it can be stimulated when you use an addictive substance. The same is also true, when you take part in an addictive behavior, such as gambling.

It is also interesting to note that an increase in the number of gambling establishments may also lead to an increase in the number of problem gamblers. The vast majority of individuals who play the games at casinos and in other areas where games are played are able to do so recreationally. However, there is a small percentage of up to 20% that become compulsive with their behavior and begin to exhibit the issue of gambling addiction.

It is also interesting to note that the chemicals in the body are also associated with compulsive behavior. As was discussed in a previous chapter, it is often seen that individuals who have Parkinson's disease are more likely to take part in some form of compulsion, including the possibility of excessive gambling. There are also medications, some of which are used for the treatment of Parkinson's disease that can lead to those compulsions as well. In some cases, it is listed as a side effect directly on the bottle.

Since there are many factors that can contribute to the possibility of gambling addiction, it is difficult to pin it on a genetic factor. There is some evidence to point to the fact, however, that you may be genetically predisposed to the condition. That doesn't mean, however, that you are going to gamble and that you are going have a problem with it. In some cases, it may be up to you and the decisions that you make, either to gamble excessively or not to gamble at all.

6. Identify and Cope with Gambling Triggers

One of the biggest problems that addicts face is a problem with triggers. These are issues that can make it more likely for them to take part in the addictive behavior. And when they are trying to quit, exposure to the triggers can make it more difficult for them to abstain from the practice. Although many people tend to focus on habits such as smoking or drinking as containing triggers, the fact is that addicted gamblers may also have triggers.

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In many cases, something that would trigger a compulsive gambler is a very uncomfortable feeling. It could be that you are over-hungry, anxious or perhaps angry about situations around you. Any time these uncomfortable feelings come up in your mind, it can trigger a need for compulsive gambling, as that would help you to feel better, even if only on a temporary basis. After all, the dopamine release in the pleasure center of the brain, which occurs during the time that you are gambling, can give you a type of euphoria that makes all of your problems temporarily disappear.

The problem with using gambling as such a crutch is that eventually, the problems are going to return again. Once the dopamine release stops and you are out of money, you are not only facing the issues that you are trying to run from in the first place, but you are also facing other issues that can include guilt, depression and extreme stress. At this point, very few options are open to you, and this is when many people who have a gambling addiction tend to go into debt, or even begin to steal in order to fund their addiction.

When you truly understand the nature of gambling addiction and the triggers that exist, it shows you why it is classified as a type of mental illness. It can be very difficult to break free from the problem, but once you are able to identify the triggers that affect you, you will find it is much easier to do so.

Of course, you would not want to maintain the habit in order to see what type of triggers exists. Each and every time you gamble, it makes it that much more difficult to break free from it, and you may lose your desire to stop. Breaking free from it now, often means that you should look for the typical triggers and avoid them when possible. It also is something that can be addressed through the HALT method.

The HALT method is something that is used by many addicts, both those who gamble and those who use drugs. It is a way to change your thinking very quickly and to identify the issues, which are more likely to cause you to want to take part in some form of compulsive behavior. As soon as a craving starts to come up into your mind, you should quickly and firmly tell yourself to HALT. Doing so helps to break the cycle of addiction and it can help to make a positive change by stopping the compulsion.

In addition, you are reinforcing the fact that there is likely a trigger behind the compulsion. HALT is more than a simple stop word; it is an acronym that stands for Hungry, Angry, Lonely and Tired. These are some of the more uncomfortable triggers that may exist and more than likely, you will find that you are experiencing one of these emotions or uncomfortable symptoms, when the compulsion begins to take over.

What can you do if you discover that you are having a craving and it is being triggered in some way or another? You actually have many options, all of which can help you to deal with the issue effectively. One of the best things that you can do, however, is to make any change that is necessary to remove the trigger or to avoid it if possible. This will help to break the cycle and will allow you to get beyond the compulsion to gamble.

You may also need to take part in a positive activity that will assist you in overcoming the craving while it is causing you so many difficulties. You might try exercising, doing some deep breathing exercises or perhaps meditating. Even spending some quality time with friends and family (those who do not gamble) can be beneficial. Additional methods for coping and relaxing will be discussed in another chapter in this book. Be sure that you read them, as they can go a long way in helping you to deal with the issues.

7. How to Deal with Stress without Gambling

In the previous chapter, we had a discussion about the various triggers that could make it difficult for you to abstain from gambling. We talked about how triggers are often uncomfortable feelings, and how we escape to the temporary relief that we get when we gamble as a result of the feeling of euphoria that takes place in the mind. In this chapter, we are going to zero in on one of the more potent triggers that are a problem for many gambling addicts, that of stress.

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Stress is a fact of life and it is something that all of us have to deal with, regardless of whether we are dealing with it at home or dealing with it at work. In its proper place, stress may actually be beneficial, because it causes chemical reactions in the body that prepare us for action. The unfortunate reality of many of our lives is, however, that we are dealing with stress overload, and a never-ending supply of stressful situations that seem to compound our difficulties significantly. Rather than having the opportunity to come down from the stress and recover, we often find that we just go from one stressful moment to another. This is something that can make it very difficult to stay away from the gambling habit.

There are a wide variety of coping mechanisms that can help you to deal with stress. You may want to look into all of the mechanisms that are available, but in this chapter, we are going to review a few that will help you to calm down quickly and deal with the craving that you experience. These stress techniques have helped millions of people, and continue to make it possible for many more to experience a life that is free of addiction.

Deep Breathing Exercises

It has long been known that our life is in our breath. Consider the fact although we can go for months without eating or days without drinking, we can only go for a matter of a minute or so without breathing before we die. It becomes obvious how important our breath is. Unfortunately, the stress that we experience often causes changes in our breathing habits, making it shallow so that we are not getting the oxygen that we need through the entire body. This results in a buildup of carbon dioxide, which makes us even more stressed and sick.

There are many different types of deep breathing exercises that can assist you in building up the oxygen in your body. Even the practice of taking deep breaths, allowing your diaphragm to move out of the way and fill your entire lungs, can certainly be beneficial. Another beneficial method of deep breathing is known as square breathing.

Square breathing is a scientifically proven way to balance the oxygen and carbon dioxide in your body. It is something that can be done quickly and easily, so you can take advantage of the benefits that it offers, even when you are on the go. It is best done in a relaxed situation, but when you are under stress, you can even do it right in front of somebody and they will never know it.

Throughout the exercise of square breathing, you are going to be counting to four. You should never rush your count and you should keep it consistent throughout the entire exercise. If you find that you are having difficulties because it takes too long for you to get to four, do not rush your counting. You can, however, reduce the count to three, provided you keep it consistent throughout the exercise.

Begin in a comfortable position, if possible with your lungs comfortably empty. Breathe in through your nose gradually and fully, until your lungs are completely full of air. This will be done to the count of four, from the time that you begin breathing in until the time that you stop. Try to envision the air entering into your body, as if it is filling every nook and cranny in the process.

Once you have your lungs comfortably full of air, you are going to hold the air in your lungs to the count of four. Maintain the same level of counting and do not rush through the process. This allows the oxygen in the air, which is now in your lungs to attach to your red blood cells and travel throughout the body. Envision the oxygen traveling through your bloodstream and reaching the parts of your body that have been deprived of it, due to your stress.

The third side of the square is to breathe out to the count of four. You should breathe out through your open mouth, although it is not necessary to have your mouth hanging wide open in order to do it. Simply allow your lips to part slightly, and for your breath to slowly escape from your lungs through your lips. You should do this to the count of four, maintaining the same speed as the other two sides of the square.

Finally, the fourth side of the square is in between your breaths. After you have allowed the air to escape through your mouth, you will leave your lungs comfortably empty to the count of four. This is where many people have a difficulty with counting to four. It is especially a problem for those who have breathing difficulties, such as asthma or COPD. Your body will eventually get used to the process, but until it does, you can drop your count to the count of three.

The method described above represents one cycle. Just as you have four parts inside of that one cycle, you also want to repeat it four times, as if you are following the sides of the square. It only takes a minute or two, but when you are finished, it can leave you refreshed and relaxed.

The Benefits of Meditating

Another relaxation technique that has helped millions of people is meditating. In fact, this is a technique that has been used for thousands of years. It has its roots in Asian medicine, which many of us trust for a number of healing purposes. Although at first, meditation had a strong religious significance, it is now practiced because of the health benefits that it provides.

It is important to recognize that there are many different ways to meditate. Some people meditate by closing their eyes and trying to detach themselves from the body, in order to remove all conscious thought. Although this may help you to escape your stress on a temporary basis, it never really allows you to face your stress and to overcome it. You can do that, however, through a type of meditation that is known as mindfulness meditating.

The practice of mindfulness meditation is certainly nothing new. It is also thousands of years old and when it is utilized properly, it can assist you in dealing with stress in a very big way. The basic principle of mindfulness meditation is to allow your mind and your body to live in the present. You will not need to worry about past experiences and how they are affecting you now. Nor will you need to think about any future events that may or may not occur. By living in the present, you can truly live a stress-free life.

An important part of mindfulness meditation is to accept the fact that there is nothing good or bad about your life. Most of us tend to judge the situation that we are in or the feelings that we are encountering, as being either good or bad. With mindfulness meditation, however, you will allow these thoughts to come and go, but you will not judge them in any way. If it is something that could be construed as good, you should enjoy it, but if it is something that would have at one time been considered bad, you should simply look at it as a part of your life.

It is important to understand the benefits of mindfulness meditation. Have you ever noticed that some people are very positive and they always look for the good in everything that comes their way? Many of these people are living in the present and they are very mindful of their lives. Does it mean that they do not experience any bad in their lives? Absolutely not, like all people, they have good days and bad days. Regardless of their circumstances, however, they try to look at it positively.

How to Meditate Mindfully

When you are ready for your session of mindfulness meditation, you should begin in a comfortable position. It is best if you are seated, either on the floor or in a chair, but you would want your hips above the level of your feet. There is no need for you to set up any type of special area for meditation, although it does help if you have a quiet corner of the home where you will not be disturbed.

Mindfulness meditation is done with your eyes open. You are going to be cognizant of all of your faculties, and during the time that you are meditating, you are not going to try to close out all conscious thought. With your eyes open yet relaxed, you are able to take in the world that is around you and to experience what is happening in the present.

At first, you'll want to pay very careful attention to your breathing. You will still be aware of your senses, but as you breathe, it will occupy the majority of your attention. Feel the air going in and out of your lungs and notice how it affects you, as you breathe deeply. This is your center point, an area where you can feel calm and peaceful. When you are stressed, you can retreat to this area quickly.

As you continue in the mindfulness meditation process, you will begin to become more aware of the world around you. You are still going to be in a meditative state, but you should notice anything that you see, hear or smell and you should be appreciative of it. If there is anything that could be construed as negative, such as a dog barking in the distance or perhaps an offensive smell, do not push it out of the way as if it were bad. Simply accept it for what it is and allow it to pass.

During this part of your meditation, you will begin to experience thoughts and emotions. You should try to control these, although you should allow them to come and go at will. Don't linger on any thought, regardless of whether it is positive or negative. Just be mindful of the fact that the emotion exists or the thought has occurred, and allow it to pass on its way. Never be judgmental when dismissing these thoughts.

If you become overwhelmed by emotional and stressful thoughts, do not allow yourself to push them out of the way hurriedly. The best way for you to handle this situation is to center yourself on your breathing once again. Don't close everything out forcefully, but simply dismiss it until you are able to regain your emotional balance. At that point, you will be able to continue with the exercise for the duration.

When used properly, mindfulness meditation and deep breathing exercises can be very powerful tools. For those who suffer from gambling compulsions or any type of addiction, it is a practice that can help you to relieve the stress that may be causing your difficulties. When you are able to cope with the stress in your life successfully, you will find that you have compulsions to take part in the addictive behavior on fewer occasions. It is something that you can run to in a hurry or use on a daily basis, in order to keep your addiction in check.

8. Cravings and What to Do about Them

Gambling is a serious problem and as such, it carries issues associated with addiction that are often only considered in chemical addiction. When you do a comparison of the cravings that are experienced by gamblers and those that are experienced by alcoholics, studies have shown that an alcoholic is going to experience fewer cravings and the gambler is going to have cravings that are stronger.

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The fact that you are suffering from cravings is one of the key points in understanding that you have a problem with gambling. Although it can assist you in taking the first step in overcoming the addiction, you are still going to have to deal with the cravings from time to time. Relaxation techniques and the HALT method will do their part in helping you to deal with cravings. But you may need to take it a step further, and take positive action in order to deal with cravings as they arise.

Contact - Like any type of addiction, it is important to have a strong support structure when you have a problem with compulsive gambling. Have people that are available to talk to you, just in case you should have a craving. It could be a close friend or perhaps a family member, but if they are supportive of you, they will understand that from time to time, cravings are going to come up.

Another form of contact can exist, if you take part in a larger treatment program. Programs such as Gamblers Anonymous and many local talk groups may have a support structure, which could include a sponsor. These are individuals who are well aware of the problems with gambling, as it is likely that they have also dealt with the problem in the past. If you have them available, they will certainly be able to give you the guidance that you need.

Get Busy - When a gambling craving strikes, it often does so out of the blue and without warning. Of course, there is likely a trigger behind it, but we may not recognize the trigger or we may have missed it. When this occurs, do anything you can to get busy, so that you can get your mind off of the craving. It doesn't matter if you pick up a book and read it, watch some TV or even go for a quick walk around the block. Do whatever you can to remove the craving as quickly as possible.

Preemptive Strike - One of the best things that you can do, if you are a recovering gambling addict, is to ensure that you don't have cravings in the first place. Rather than taking action when the craving occurs, you can do things, which will help to keep it from occurring in the first place. In part, this may be avoiding any triggers that could make it more likely for you to suffer cravings. Even the act of keeping busy during the day and doing plenty of activities will help to keep your mind on other things.

There are always going to be options available, when you have a gambling problem and are dealing with cravings. As long as you have solutions available that will assist you in dealing with the craving when it occurs, you will find that it passes quickly. Each time you are successful in overcoming your cravings, you will find that it becomes easier and easier for you to keep free from the gambling addiction, for life.

9. Possible Treatment Program Options

When you have a problem with any type of addictive behavior, it is important to understand how to treat it effectively. In the case of gambling, there are going to be options that are available, but not every individual that has a problem with gambling is going to seek the same type of help. In this chapter, we are going to review some of the different treatment options that are available for gamblers. Using one or more of these options may make it easier for you to avoid it, and to keep away from it for the rest of your life.

Description: The Gamble

Support Groups - Although gambling is often one of the more hidden addictions, it is a problem for millions of people. As a result of it being a problem for that many people, there are support groups that exist in almost any area. In some cases, these support groups may be affiliated with a large company, such as Gamblers Anonymous. In other cases, it may be a local group that gets together on a periodic basis to talk about the problem and get some support. If you do take part in one of these programs, it is likely that you will be taking part in a multi-step recovery program that will assist you in overcoming the addiction.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy - Another form of treatment that is used by many people who have a problem with gambling is cognitive behavioral therapy. This is a type of therapy that is very popular, not only because of its effectiveness, but because it is inexpensive in comparison with other types of professional treatments. As you take part in cognitive behavioral therapy, it will help you to change the way that you think about your habit and often, to change your behavior as well.

If you remember from our discussion on addictions, the brain is often wired for the addiction because we continue in it and become "addicted" to the release of dopamine. The purpose of cognitive behavioral therapy is to rewire the brain, in essence, changing the way that we think. It can be very effective in helping an addict to overcome the problem and cope with the cravings.

Does the fact that cognitive behavioral therapy changes the way you think mean that you will no longer be addicted? No, once you are a gambling addict, you will continue to have to deal with the addiction. You may be able to abstain from gambling for the rest of your life, but you will never be able to do it again.

There are also many other things that you can do to help yourself overcome a gambling addiction. These may include anything from self-hypnosis to Neuro-Linguistic Programming. By looking into these different possibilities and choosing something that works well for you, you will be in a much better position to stop the addictive behavior.

10. Is It Possible to Treat Your Own Problem?

Many people that suffer from a gambling problem do not necessarily want to make it public knowledge and get professional help. They may feel that they are able to handle the problem on their own, or they may be looking for ways that they can deal with the problem successfully, without any type of outside help. What many gambling addicts do not understand, however, is the depth of their addiction and how much it has affected their lives up until this point. In this chapter, we will discuss some of the possible ways that you can treat the gambling addiction on your own, with the understanding that at times, professional help is necessary.

Description: Ace Of Spade

Like many methods of self-help that are used by addicts, an individual who has an addictive problem with gambling is going to need to be committed to quitting. The fact that you downloaded this book and are taking a look at it is an indication that you are ready to take it to the next level and actually give up gambling. Once you are committed and are ready to quit, you really have taken the biggest step to a life that is free of gambling. Of course, that doesn’t mean that you’re not going to run into problems along the way, but they can often be addressed by the methods in this book.

One of the issues that you may be facing if you have a gambling problem is the need to come up with money for gambling, regardless of where you get it. You may end up running up your credit cards to the maximum limit, or you could even end up stealing from others in order to fund your habit. It is important for you to eliminate the resources that are available to provide you with money. Get rid of your credit cards or at the very least, give them to a trusted friend or family member that can regulate them for you.

Finally, it is important for you to avoid any type of tempting situation. If you regularly are in an environment where gambling is a possibility, it is going to be much easier for you to give in to the temptation. Any method of self-help is going to include avoiding the triggers that can cause a problem with the addiction, including the environment where you are at the time. You may even need to take it a step further, by blocking websites that allow you to gamble online, if that has been a problem for you in the past.

Often, taking a series of small steps is going to make a difference in your ability to overcome the habit. With persistence, a good support structure and a strong desire to quit, you will find that it is possible to take care of the treatment of your gambling addiction, at home in many cases.

11. Depression, Anxiety and Other Issues

The people who suffer from a gambling addiction often cannot believe that they are in this situation. They may feel weak and guilty over the fact that they are unable to stop on their own, and they may constantly worry about the situation that they find themselves in. They feel that if they are able to get one big score or to simply win back the money that they have invested up until this point, they will be able to walk away from the gambling table once and for all. Unfortunately, that is rarely the case.

Description: Black And White Photo Portrait Of A Girl

Gambling is not an issue that only affects the person who is gambling. As a matter of fact, it is one of the more serious problems that can occur within the family structure, and often breaks down relationships in many ways. It can even harm your ability to work, especially if you are stealing to fund your habit, or if you find that you are skipping work on a continual basis in order to go to the casinos. Taking a look at some of the issues that may be involved with gambling can open your eyes to the seriousness of the problem that you are experiencing.

Guilt - When a person has an addiction to gambling, one of the more serious problems that they face is a problem with guilt. They may feel guilty when they gamble and guilty when they lose, but that guilt does not stop them from gambling. As a matter of fact, it is a negative emotion that actually ends up fueling their desire to gamble even more. This may be because they feel that they just want to win this one time, so that they can get out from underneath the problems that they are now experiencing.

Depression - In some cases, individuals who suffer from gambling addiction also suffer from serious depression. It is important to understand that depression is not just feeling sad or having a case of the blues. Just as addiction is a mental illness, depression is a mental illness as well. It is not something that you can simply snap out of, and it is not going to go away on its own. If you are able to overcome your gambling addiction, you may be able to deal with your depression separately. Otherwise, it is a dark hole that many addicts find themselves suffering in.

Families - Perhaps one of the biggest problems that are associated with gambling is the issues that it causes with families. As you continue to gamble uncontrollably, it is likely that your partner is going to threaten to leave you, and that is only going to add to your stress. In addition, there are likely plenty of fights about gambling and about the financial situation that you are now in. It can harm your reputation inside of the family structure, and make it very difficult for you to have any level of respect from those that used to love you.

Burnout - As your gambling problems continue to progress, it is likely that you are also going to experience a degree of burnout. Although it certainly can be difficult to cope with all of the stress and anxiety that is in your life at this point, once it continues to compile, you may simply find that you are at the point of no return. It can take all the fun out of life and make it very difficult for you to enjoy time with your family.

Health Problems - We have already discussed the extreme likelihood that a problem with gambling addiction is causing depression and stress, not only for you but for the rest of your family. As these issues continue to build up within you, it can end up leading to health problems. You may find that you are having digestive issues, are unable to sleep properly and are suffering from anything from muscle pain to headaches. These are real issues that need to be addressed and if you don’t address them, they can cause additional problems.

Children - As we have discussed many times in this book, the gambler often thinks that they are the only one that is being affected by their habit. The fact of the matter is, however, every member of the family is affected when you are a gambler. This includes the children, who are often caught in the middle of too many arguments and end up suffering as a result. It not only affects them now, it can affect them in their adult lives as well, with low self-esteem and a whole host of other problems.

Finances - Although this seems like one of the more obvious problems, it is not always a problem when a gambling addiction occurs. In some cases, you may have plenty of money to gamble, and you don’t run the risk of losing all of your money at the gambling table. That doesn’t mean, however, that your compulsion is not causing problems in your family and in your circle of friends. Financial problems certainly can and do exist with gambling problems, in many cases, but it is not always the biggest piece of the puzzle.

12. How to Help Someone with a Gambling Problem

Up until this point in the publication, we have focused on the need for the gambler to look at their own situation and to treat their problem with compulsive gambling. In this chapter, we are going to take it a step further and look at what can be done if you have a loved one that is a problem gambler. You will recognize that it is not only what you do, but also what you don’t do, that can make a difference.

Description: Think

First of all, it is important for you to understand that the problem with gambling addiction is not your problem. There is no way that you are to blame for their addiction, even if they blame you on occasion because of the stress in your relationship. It is important that you find a way to help yourself, and to give yourself the financial and emotional stability that is necessary to work your way through the difficult times ahead.

You should also look for any support that you can get, because you are going to need it, just as they are going to need it. When you are dealing with serious addiction problems, such as what occurs in some gambling addictions, it can be difficult to face the problem from the inside. It is likely that this has been a problem that has affected you deeply, and it is something that you would like to get through quickly. Unfortunately, the road to recovery can be rough and there may be setbacks along the way. It is very important for you to be supportive, but you may also need to ensure that you have support as well.

A very serious problem that sometimes accompanies gambling is suicide. This is especially true when gamblers feel as if all hope is lost, and there is nothing they can do to recover from the deep issues that are associated with their addiction. It is important for you to be aware of how to get in touch with professional help through the suicide prevention hotline, in case a situation arises.

It is also important for you to consider how you are going to handle money from this point forward. It is likely that you will be taking control of the family finances at this point, to avoid any future problems. If they do request money from you, are you going to place any degree of trust in them at that point? This is a serious situation that needs to be considered, because you need to protect yourself and at the same time, you need to protect them.

What Not to Do

If you’re going to be supportive throughout the time that they are dealing with their addiction, it is important for you to understand what not to do as well. This can be a very emotional time for the entire family, and you may give into threatening or preaching in order to help them to overcome the habit. The fact of the matter is that no degree of threats or ultimatums is going to help them to overcome their addiction. Unless you plan on following through on your ultimatums, don’t issue them.

You should also be sure to include the person who is suffering from gambling in all aspects of family life. Up until this point, they may have excluded themselves because of the degree of shame that they were feeling, as a result of their addiction. It is important for them to begin to enjoy life again, and to take part in everyday activities that will help them to deal with their addiction and overcome it.

If the gambler has put themselves in some serious financial difficulties, allow them to get out of those difficulties on their own. It may take some time, just as it is going to take time for the addiction to subside. Bailing out the gambler will likely backfire on you and it could cause additional problems, because it is unlikely that they would use the money to actually get themselves out of debt.

Most of all do not cover up the fact that the person is an addict. Remember that the addiction is often referred to as the “hidden addiction”, because it is something that is often swept under the carpet. You not only need to be aware of the problem, you need to discuss it openly with them and with anyone else that has been involved in the situation.

13. Living Life without Gambling and Loving It

Description: Playing Cards

Although gambling is a problem that is often overlooked and is something that is quite frequently swept under the carpet in family life, it is a serious problem that needs to be addressed. When you have a gambling addiction, it not only affects you, but it affects everyone that is near you. You may be suffering from financial problems, guilt, legal trouble and serious depression. At times, you may even have thought about taking your own life.

Be aware of the fact that there is help when you are an addict. Regardless of whether you are an alcoholic, a drug addict or addicted to gambling, there are solutions available, which will help you to overcome the difficulty and to live a life that is free of the addiction, once and for all.

Review the information in this book and use it as a new beginning for you and your family. When you take the first step and continue to work toward recovery, you will find that each new step becomes easier. Quitting gambling may take some time, but it is a decision that you can live with!