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man contemplating cycle of addiction

The Cycle of Addiction

There are many ways to view gambling addiction but it is often helpful to see it as a learnt behaviour. This behaviour might have been learnt from another individual, or self-taught, but it is something that would not spontaneously appear in the way that an illness might.

This can be a useful perspective to take because if gambling addiction is seen as a learnt behaviour then you can imagine that it can also be unlearned, and a new behaviour put in its place.

Once we become aware that we have a gambling addiction we can make a conscious decision to bring about change in our lives.

It may be helpful for you to locate yourself within these six stages of the addiction. These stages do not necessarily manifest in a linear way, although can often follow each other: 

  1. Pre-contemplative:
    The problem has not been identified and there is therefore no motivation for change
  2. Contemplative:
    Thoughts arise as to whether change is required or possible
  3. Planning:
    A decision is made that change is required and possible - and plans are made with regards to how this is going to happen
  4. Action:
    Plans are put into action
  5. Maintenance:
    Barriers are put in place to ensure continued success
  6. Relapse:
    The addiction takes hold once more and the individual re-enters the pre-contemplative stage

Not all compulsive gamblers will go through every stage and they may not enter them in this particular order however, what is consistent within addiction recovery of any kind is the power of conscious decision making. In order to change our lives an addiction has to be moved out of the unconscious and into the conscious mind where decisions can be made whilst “in awareness”.

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