If you buy an occasional lottery ticket just for fun, or even purchase a few tickets a week, you probably don't have a serious addiction problem. Lottery tickets can be fun, and people even tuck a few into a birthday card or Christmas card at times for a unique gift idea.
In moderation, playing the lottery isn't harmful and isn't likely to wipe out your life savings. However, if you find yourself stopping at the local convenience store several times a day to buy a few scratch-off tickets, you may be developing a gambling addiction.
The odds are against you
You're probably aware of the fact that few people win the lottery. Scratch-off tickets can lure you into a false sense of the odds being in your favor. You may win small amounts of money instantly on a scratch-off ticket and use the money you win to buy more tickets in hopes of winning a larger prize. This isn't likely to happen.
A dollar here and a dollar there
For a few dollars you can purchase a lottery ticket. This is where the danger comes in. You may find it easy to justify your addiction because the cost is so small. Over time these small amounts add up to big gambling expenses. If you don't feel you have a problem with addiction, keep track of your lottery ticket expense for a month and see how quick it adds up.
If you suspect you are spending too much money on lottery tickets, you can prevent the problem from escalating into a full gambling addiction. Avoid trips to convenience stores where tickets are easy to buy. If you usually stop at these stores to buy coffee on your way to and from work, try only carrying a small amount of cash with you. Stop keeping your credit cards with you.
If you still find yourself tempted to spend the cash you have on tickets rather than buying the coffee, try taking your own coffee from home. Consider taking an alternative route to and from work to eliminate the temptation of stopping at your favorite store.
Look for warning signs
If your addiction is out of control, and you find it's affecting your life in negative ways, you should seek professional help from an addiction counselor or at a recovery center like the Addictions Recovery Center. If you cannot stop buying tickets, no matter how hard you try, or you find you're neglecting paying your bills because of financial issues, you should seek help.
Listen to what your family members are saying. If they've expressed concern that you may have an addiction, they're probably right. When you're involved in any addiction, it can be difficult to see the symptoms. You may try to justify the problem or lessen the severity of it.
The first step to gambling addiction recovery is admitting you have a problem and making the first phone call to seek help. You may want to confide in a friend or family member to keep you accountable in between counseling sessions. Many people struggle with addictions. Many also recover successfully from their addiction with the help of professional counselors. Don't be ashamed to seek help. Reaching out for help is a sign of strength, not weakness.