Mr. Marriage Counselor - "I Plan to Quit Compulsive Sports Gambling"

    man-has-compulsive-sports-gambling-problem.jpgReader Question:

    I plan to quit my sports gambling addiction, which meets with various levels of disapproval from friends and family. Some are more able to express that they are glad I'm quitting than others. I consider that their weakness and judgmentalness, if that is a word. My motivation for counseling is to learn something that would help me understand myself better and to change. I am figuring out who I am as a man at the ripe old age of 43 . I'm trying to answer that, to analyze the sequence of thoughts and feelings that make up this gambling cycle and see where I can change some of them in addition to changing the behavior itself. I have never tried to quit my compulsive sports gambling before.I've been at it for most of the last 22 years, going hard core most of that time, especially in football season. My only winning month has been September, and my only winning year was 1999. Where do I start?" -Justin T.


    My Answer:

    Sounds like you're off to a good start already. Here are a few positives I hear:

    • It's good that you recognize that your decision to quit is going to meet with varying levels of disapproval. That's some good insight on your part to recognize that other people's reactions have more to do with them than you. This is a really important part of your recovery because recognizing the influence of others is a big factor in dealing with a sports gambling addiction.
    • It's also good that you see that there's a cycle to your problem gambling. You're exactly right that you need to understand the thoughts and feelings that feed this cycle.


    Here are three things to do going forward from here:

    1. Get Some Support. Don't try to do this alone and don't try to do it with just willpower. If you do, the odds are really, really high that you'll fail - again. Get involved with Gamblers Anonymous and get a professional counselor.
    2. Make Yourself Accountable. Put some systems in place, such as attending a GA group or meeting with an addictions counselor to help you stay committed on and on track with your goal.
    3. Find Some Expertise. Get connected with someone who's been through this before and knows what it takes to succeed. A professional counselor, who work's with men struggling with addictions, particularly a compulsive problem gambling addiction, is the best source of expertise.

    You're off to a good start -- keep it going.

    -Kurt Smith, Marriage Counselor


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