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Mind Control to Break Online Gambling Addiction

While gambling has been a well-documented problem for years, the availability of online casinos has made gambling far more accessible. It has also made it harder for recovering addicts to avoid relapse. Online or virtual casinos are open all day, every day for anyone with Internet access. People who don’t live within close proximity of a traditional casino or betting track, for example, or even those who are too young to gain access, now find it much easier “thanks” to online gambling.

Net compulsions such as compulsive stock trading or online auction shopping can be just as financially and socially damaging as online gambling. eBay addicts, for example, may wake up at strange hours in order to be online for the last remaining minutes of an auction. They may purchase things they don’t need and can’t afford in order to experience the excitement of placing the winning bid.

Compulsive online gamers can isolate themselves for many hours at a time participating in virtual reality or online fantasy games, neglecting other aspects of their lives such as work and family.

Self-help tips for breaking your Internet addiction

There are a number of steps you can take to get your Internet use under control. While you can initiate many of these yourself, it’s important you get some outside support as well. It can be all too easy to slip back into old patterns of usage, especially if you use the Internet heavily for work or other important activities.

• Recognize any underlying problems that may support your Internet addiction. If you are struggling with depression, stress, or anxiety, for example, Internet addiction might be a way to self-soothe rocky moods. Have you had problems with alcohol or drugs in the past? Does anything about your Internet use remind you of how you used to drink or use drugs to numb yourself? Recognize if you need to address treatment in these areas or return to group support meetings.

• Build your coping skills. Perhaps blowing off steam on the Internet is your way of coping with stress or angry feelings. Or maybe you have trouble relating to others, or are excessively shy with people in real life. Building skills in these areas will help you weather the stresses and strains of daily life without resorting to compulsive Internet use.

• Strengthen your support network. The more relationships you have in real life, the less you will need the Internet for social interaction. Set aside dedicated time each week for friends and family. If you are shy, try finding common interest groups such as a sports team, education class, or book reading club. This allows you to interact with others and let relationships develop naturally.

Modify your Internet use, step-by-step

•To help you see problem areas, keep a log of how much you use the Internet for non-work or non-essential activities. Are there times of day that you use the Internet more? Are there triggers in your day that make you stay online for hours at a time when you only planned to stay for a few minutes?

•Set goals for when you can use the Internet. For example, you might try setting a timer, scheduling use for certain times of day, or making a commitment to turn off the computer, tablet, or smartphone at the same time each night. Or you could reward yourself with a certain amount of online time once you’ve completed a homework assignment or finished the laundry, for instance.

•Replace your Internet usage with healthy activities. If you are bored and lonely, resisting the urge to get back online can be very difficult. Have a plan for other ways to fill the time, such as going to lunch with a coworker, taking a class, or inviting a friend over.

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