Having spent a long and distinguished career in the field of psychology, Max Polyakov is very well acquainted with the issue of gambling addiction. While not a chemical dependency in the same way as, say, alcoholism or drug addiction, gambling nonetheless can exert a crippling grip on the risk and reward centres of an addict’s brain. Here the psychologist provides us with 10 tips to help keep problem gamblers out of temptation’s way.
Whether it’s Gamblers Anonymous or a similar organization, psychologist Max Polyakov says that support groups can provide a supportive and welcoming framework to help you conquer your addiction. They can also provide relief and advice when you fear a relapse, which can be all too common.
Max Polyakov describes a sponsor as someone who could be a friend or adviser you can call when you feel like gambling again. Try and find someone who used to have a similar gambling problem, since their advice can be more authentic. However, even a non-judgemental and supportive friend or family member can be your point of contact in an emergency.
When you’re out and about, take a route that keeps you from passing bookmakers or casinos. Max Polyakov insists that this makes it less likely that you’ll run in for a quick bet and helps you avoid a nasty and disappointing relapse.
With smartphones and tablets, it’s very tempting to log on and have a quick gamble these days. This makes it even harder to stay away from temptation. Get a phone without smart capabilities to lessen temptation.
Max Polyakov says the first step to curing addiction is to recognize it. Understand when you’re gambling is starting to become a problem and you’re regularly losing a lot more than you’re winning.
It’s easier to play responsibly if you set a monthly or weekly limit on your wagering. Max Polyakov says this will stop you emptying your wallet and help gambling remain an occasional pleasure rather than a problematic addiction.
You might be a sports fanatic, but Max Polyakov says that psychologically it’s much harder not to gamble if you keep watching sports you used to wager on. Don’t watch these sports, at least until you have your gambling under control.
If a lot of your friends are still gamblers, Max Polyakov finds that there will be more pressure on you to gamble in their presence. Stay away from others who still engage in problem gambling, and you’ll find life easier.
This might sound like a drastic solution to the problem, but Max Polyakov insists that meditation and practising mindfulness can really help a person take control of their gambling habits and help them build up their willpower. “To all extents and purposes, gambling is an irrational activity,” says the psychologist. “When your mind is calm and organized, you’ll be less vulnerable to suggestion and better able to control negative impulses to gamble”.
If gambling was a big part of your life, quitting will leave a hole that you have to fill. Max Polyakov recommends finding a sport or hobby like chess or boxing that you can pour your energy into that can help you forget the temptations of gambling.