Mindfulness as a Strategy for Overcoming Gambling Addiction

Compulsive gambling is defined as an uncontrollable urge, no matter the cost, to gamble. Similar to other addictions, the risk factor creates a high, which stimulates the brain’s reward system. The continuation of this behavior can be devastating, including the loss of money, relationships, jobs and can even result in a criminal record. Recent research demonstrates the value and importance of mindfulness practice in combating this behavioral addiction.


Mindfulness is defined as being present in the moment, finding serenity and peace with today, and building awareness of our bodies, thoughts, and emotions. There are great mental and physical benefits of this practice. Some positive aspects include the increased ability to handle stress, focus attention, maintain emotional control, mitigate impulsive behavior, and support a healthy immune system. When used in a therapeutic setting, the results can be highly beneficial.

Approaches for Treating Gambling Addiction

Living in the present without judgment is very beneficial for dealing with a gambling addiction. Low risk aversion and overconfidence are part of a gambler’s mindset as they seek the next big hit or score. Mindfulness can combat these urges and misperceptions of their abilities. It is useful to notice when an urge comes, pay attention to it and then release. A practice of being present with thoughts or feelings that come up helps a person with addiction learn to let go of that which doesn’t serve them.Another way in which mindfulness helps combat gambling addiction is through personal acceptance. This allows the practitioner to identify and deal with personal issues which drive the desire to gamble such as stress in relationships, work, or life in general. The recovery process is about accepting today for what it offers us and this also gives the person with an addiction to gambling a fresh start each day to face temptations and urges which may arise. With any addiction, there is a risk of relapse. Mindfulness is a practice that helps train the mind to combat addiction.

Practice after Treatment

Whether mindfulness is introduced in an inpatient or outpatient treatment setting, it is important to keep up with the practice. Some studies demonstrate a lower risk of relapse for those who continue mindfulness practice following treatment. What can be helpful is to find a group of people who also practice, perhaps those who are also in recovery, to stay accountable. It may be helpful to set aside time everyday in the morning and evening to set an intention for the day, focus the mind’s energy and remember the reason for abstaining from gambling. It is possible to incorporate mindfulness into everyday living, to deal with stress or other issues which can trigger a relapse and seek continued support from a counselor, therapist or trusted friend who will walk with you through recovery and ensure your continued success.The Last Resort can help with a gambling addiction that has derailed your life. Recovery is possible. Call 512-750-6750 today.