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Gambling addiction "in moderation"

answered 09:54 AM EST, Sun March 11, 2012
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I am in Uni and I have a gambling problem. I have tried doing the whole gamblers anon thing but the sanctimoniousness of those people really grates on me and I’m not much for group things either. I have been trying it though and in the end it is just not working for me.

My financial situation is really f***ed and my parents have no idea how bad it is or that I’ve already passed through a fund that I inherited a couple of years ago, but for me I don’t think that not ever never gambling again is ever going to be an attainable option. When it gets going I just feel this pressure and it feels l I just have to go and do it just so I don’t have to keep thinking about it every second of the day. I have really tried to fight this and it’s really not doable.

Can I learn how to gamble more sensibly? I don’t think abstinence is for me but I can’t keep on going like I am now. Is there some sort of gamblers for moderation group out there that would make more sense for people like me who want to get things under control but can’t really stop altogether?

Donna Hunter Says...

Donna Hunter D. Hunter
LCSW, CAP

Even in the world of alcoholism there are programs that support moderation or harm reduction. This is about taking steps to mitigate the disastrous harm an addiction will cause, i.e., using clean needles instead of dirty ones, not keeping alcohol in the house etc.

What I am hearing is that you have dug yourself in pretty deep. Perhaps you have gotten out of the financial mess gambling creates- if so that is great. But from what you write, you are in the hole and instead of digging with a shovel you want to dig with a spoon. Unfortunately, that means you are still digging.

The other issue of concern is that you are living a double life. You family is not aware of how bad things have become. It is amazing what happens when we face the fear and at the very least become emotionally and mentally clean with the wreckage of our lives.

So let’s step out of the gambling issue for a moment. Aside from gambling, what are you doing for your financial health? You have to eliminate the fantasy that one big win will fill in the hole. You know the odds on that are not good. Do you have a budget? Are you dealing with loan sharks or bookies? Are you living above your means to maintain your double life? Taking action and cleaning those issues up can help. It may mean dropping out of school and getting a job or two. You must take responsibility for the damage you have already caused.

You might want to look into programs like Smart Recovery. It is not GA but it is an approach to help you deal with the addictive thinking.

No matter how you deal with it, the urge to gamble will be there. If you do not act responsibly and stop lying to yourself and others you will have a hard time getting out of the hole.

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Page last updated Mar 11, 2012

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