Like any other addiction, gambling is an all-consuming disease. If this is something you’re struggling with, take a look at these 7 ways to stop gambling and take your life back:

1. Admit that you have a problem

Denial keeps you sick, so the only way to truly recover is by accepting and admitting that you have a problem. You are the only person who can do this; friends and family can steer you in the right direction, but the decision to get help is ultimately yours. This first step is one of the most difficult, but once you admit that you have a problem, you can start taking your life back.

2. Seek support

Developing a support system is critical when you’re in recovery from any addiction. Informing your friends and family about your gambling problem is not only good for accountability, but for emotional support as well.

It’s also important that you’re selective in who you choose to confide in. Surrounding yourself with positive people who don’t instigate your addiction is crucial. Addictions can feel isolating, but it’s important to remember that you are not alone.

There are numerous in-person and online support groups to join. If your friends and family don’t understand your addiction, it can be helpful to confide in people who do. You may also feel inspired by the number of people who are also struggling with the same addiction and are committed to pursuing recovery.

3. Get professional help

Recovering from a gambling addiction isn’t something you should have to go through alone. While support groups are helpful, it’s vital that you get professional help as well. Addictions of any kind are diseases of the mind that can only be properly treated by a counselor. Contact me if you’re ready to seek professional help.

4. Delay the decision

Urges are inevitable during the recovery process and nobody expects you to be perfect. One of the best ways to surpass urges is to allow time to pass; if you wake up in the morning with an urge to gamble, delay the decision even if it’s just in 30-minute increments. This can be hard to do without a plan.

Instead of sitting around focusing on your urge to gamble, have alternative activities lined up. Staying busy and creating distractions is important. Set up a daily routine and be sure to stick to it. When you fill your schedule with alternative activities, you’ll be less inclined to give in to your urges.

5. Get to the root of it

You cannot overcome an addiction unless you understand where it stems from. Dig deep to discover the root of your gambling problem – ask yourself why you do it. Is it for excitement? If so, try new hobbies like rock climbing or mountain biking. Do you do it out of boredom? Get in touch with your true self and discover where your passion lies.

Then, seek out groups of other people who share your interests. Do you gamble in order to numb your problems? Explore your feelings with the help of your therapist. Have you been sucked in because of money problems? Contact a financial advisor instead; in gambling, the odds are always stacked against you.

6. Identify your triggers and use positive coping skills

When you know what sets you off or triggers you to gamble, it’s easier to combat it. Once you’ve discovered the root of your problem, use positive coping skills to counter your urges and behaviors. Do things that you enjoy – pick up a new hobby or an old one that you lost when you began gambling.

Also, engage in self-care activities like journaling, drawing, reading, and relaxing. Self-care is always important, but it’s especially helpful if your addiction is rooted in stress.

7. Remember why you’re quitting

Don’t be too hard on yourself because of your addiction – it started for a reason and it’s serving some sort of purpose. Make a pro and con list of your gambling addiction and rediscover why the pros outweigh the cons. Write your list down on a piece of paper so that you have physical proof of your explanation. When you bottle things in your head it can be easy to change your mind.

Mental health is just as important as physical health, and your gambling addiction is nothing to be ashamed of. The sooner you realize you have a problem, the sooner you can take the appropriate steps to get your life back on track.