These recovery skills may help you concentrate on resisting the urges of compulsive gambling:

  • Stay focused on your No. 1 goal: not to gamble.
  • Tell yourself it's too risky to gamble at all. One bet typically leads to another and another.
  • Give yourself permission to ask for help, as sheer willpower isn't enough to overcome compulsive gambling. Ask a family member or friend to encourage you to follow your treatment plan.
  • Recognize and then avoid situations that trigger your urge to bet.

Family members of people with a compulsive gambling problem may benefit from counseling, even if the gambler is unwilling to participate in therapy.

Although there's no proven way to prevent a gambling problem, educational programs that target individuals and groups at increased risk may be helpful.

If you have risk factors for compulsive gambling, consider avoiding gambling in any form, people who gamble and places where gambling occurs. Get treatment at the earliest sign of a problem to help prevent gambling from becoming worse.

Oct. 22, 2016
  1. Gambling disorder. In: Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders DSM-5. 5th ed. Arlington, Va.: American Psychiatric Association; 2013. Accessed Sept. 17, 2016.
  2. Domino FJ. Overview of gambling disorder. Accessed Sept. 17, 2016.
  3. What is gambling disorder? American Psychiatric Association. Accessed Sept. 17, 2016.
  4. Help and treatment: Choosing a treatment facility. National Council on Problem Gambling. Accessed Sept. 29, 2016.
  5. Hennessy G. Can medications help people with gambling disorder? Psychiatric News. Accessed Sept. 17, 2016.
  6. Hall-Flavin DK (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Sept. 29, 2016.