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The Practice Of Meditation & Recovering From Gambling Addiction

Gambling addiction, also known as gambling disorder, compulsive gambling, or pathological gambling, is a progressive addiction that can have many negative social, physical, and psychological repercussions.

Just like an addiction to sex, drugs, alcohol, and other addictive behaviors, gambling addiction is a disorder of impulse control.

According to the National Council on Problem Gambling, this type of addiction affects more than 2% of people in the US.

Men tend to develop a gambling addiction at a higher rate than women.

Many have compared the feelings associated with gambling to drugs like alcohol and heroin. 

According to the Mayo Clinic, common signs of gambling addiction include:

  • resorting to fraud or theft to get gambling money;
  • your family and friends express concern about your gambling;
  • losing important relationships because of gambling;
  • having trouble controlling gambling habits;
  • lying to friends or family members to hide the extent of your gambling;
  • gambling to escape depression;
  • feeling irritable or restless when you try to cut down on gambling;
  • constantly planning how to get more gambling money.

Factors that can contribute to an increased risk of gambling addiction are:

  • dependence on gambling to ease stress;
  • family history of gambling addiction;
  • restless personalities;
  • alcoholism;
  • failed attempts to cut down on gambling;
  • job loss;
  • spending too much time online, especially on websites like NJ Online Sports Betting.
  • low serotonin (an important neurotransmitter in the body) levels;
  • depression.

The disorder is included in the American Psychiatric Association Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, fifth edition.

Treatment Options for Gambling Addicts

In general, gambling addiction is treated with the following methods:

  • self-help groups;
  • cognitive behavior therapy (CBT);
  • medications, like – mood stabilizers and antidepressants.

However, antidepressants don’t always work. Also, they have many side effects and cognitive behavior therapy can be quite costly (around $200 for a 45-minute therapy session). Regarding self-help groups, many sufferers of gambling addiction are not open to talking about their problems with others.

But, there is one method that can help people recovering from a gambling addiction and it costs nothing (only time) and you can do it almost anywhere. It is called mindfulness meditation.

Mindfulness is the human ability to be fully present of what we’re doing and where we are.

Mindfulness meditation helps us become aware of what is already true moment by moment.

”Embracing the present moment is crucial to living a life of happiness, not devoid from worry but not focused on it,” wrote Eckhart Tolle in his book The Power of Now.

According to research, mindfulness meditation can help:

  • alleviate gastrointestinal difficulties;
  • improve sleep;
  • relieve stress;
  • reduce chronic pain;
  • lower blood pressure;
  • treat heart disease.

In addition, the practice of meditation can help people with any type of addiction.

List Of 3 Ways Mindfulness Meditation Helps People To Recover From Gambling Addiction

#1 Boosts The “Happy” Neurotransmitter

Serotonin is a chemical substance that is derived from the amino acid tryptophan.  

Serotonin is believed to influence a variety of psychological functions, from sexual desire, memory, sleep, appetite, and mood. More importantly, all your brain cells are influenced by serotonin.

According to a 2011 study at the University of Montreal, mindfulness meditation has a direct impact on the brain’s production of serotonin.

In addition to meditation, a regular intake of vitamin B6 rich foods is important since this vitamin must be present to convert either tryptophan or 5-HTP into serotonin.

#2 Changes Your Brain

In 2011, Sara Lazar, an Assistant Professor in Psychology at Harvard Medical School, found that mindfulness meditation can actually change the structure of the brain.

She explains how one of the areas of meditators’ brains associated with undesirable behavior shrinks, while four regions associated with healthy brain function become more substantial.

Also, a study published in September 2018 in the Journal of Cognitive Enhancement established that meditation changes the brain and its effects seem to last over years.

#3 Transforms Your Life

Practicing mindfulness meditation aims to help you create a transformation in your life. It can help you understand relationship problems caused by a gambling addiction as well as your true reasons for your gambling problem.

It can also release emotional blockages that hold you back from recovering from compulsive gambling.

How To Get Started With A Mindfulness Practice

#1 Find a quiet spot

Sit or lay down in a comfortable position (Siddhasana is recommended) and take a few moments to find a calm, steady breath.

#2 Close your eyes

#3 Focus on your breath

Make no effort to control the breath; simply breathe naturally. Notice the sensation of the air as it travels in and out of your nose.

#4 Bring your thoughts back to the center

When your mind will wander, simply bring yourself back into the present moment by refocusing on your breathing, again and again.

Aim for 5 minutes for the first few days to ease into things. Then, gradually extend your sessions to 40 minutes.

Final Words

Practicing mindfulness meditation is simple and available to all  –  it can promote happiness, increase clarity, and reduce stress. It can also help people with gambling addiction to stop this behavior for good.

Mindfulness meditation is effective for any type of addiction since you need to be ”mindful” with what are the factors that can contribute to the development of your addiction in order to change your behavior.