Deciding to stop doing something you enjoy can be challenging, there may be times when it feels impossible but remember lots of people have quit gambling and we can help you. Do your best to stay away from gambling, the ideal outcome is that you stay away. You can always get back on track and use the experience to learn how to stop next time. When lapses occur, becoming aware of the triggers that lead you to gamble can help you manage urges more effectively in future situations.
To give yourself the best chance of sticking to your new path, try some of our strategies for change. As with quitting smoking, people who stop gambling experience urges to gamble. Urges are an inevitable part of stopping gambling and a natural part of the process of regaining control. While you can restrict your exposure to gambling triggers, you will not be able to avoid them completely, which is why it is important to learn ways of managing the urges.
Delaying the decision to gamble allows time for the urge to pass and for you to feel more in control of the decision. This is different to urge surfing as the focus is on the person using distraction from the urge to gamble rather than letting it pass without distraction. Distraction takes the focus temporarily away from the urge and can give you time to rethink your decision to gamble.
Remember you may find the urge returns when you stop the other activity. If this happens, perhaps try the urge surfing technique as above. Set a goal that you can achieve if you stop gambling or develop a list of reasons why you made the decision. For example:. Once you have decided to delay the decision to gamble, shift your attention to what you might like to do. It might be something you used to do before gambling became a problem or something you've always wanted to try.
Many people find engaging in sport fulfilling; this could be anything that gets you moving. From a daily walk or run to joining a gym or team sport. Not sure about what activities you can do when dealing with an urge? Maintaining change and our healthy hobbies blog have some useful tips. The first time you experiencing an urge subside, without gambling, will be a powerful experience.
People who have slowly overcome the urge to gamble say that their thinking becomes clearer and that they are more confident with each urge they conquer, setting them up to beat the next one. It can be so exciting and difficult to resist. Think of an urge as being like a wave. Urges can start off as nothing, perhaps a gentle ripple out to sea but as they come closer to shore they get bigger and bigger, until they break.
It is important to limit your access to any cash when you begin the process of surfing the urge as money makes the urges more difficult to resist. If you do experience an urge and would like assistance, you can contact an online counsellor for more information and support. Gambling Help Online acknowledges the traditional custodians of the land upon which our health service is built, the Wurundjeri people, and pays our respects to their elders past and present.
Sign in Get started. Home Making a change Taking control. Tools for quitting. Wanting to stop Deciding to stop doing something you enjoy can be challenging, there may be times when it feels impossible but remember lots of people have quit gambling and we can help you. Fact: Problem gamblers often try to rationalize their behavior. Blaming others is one way to avoid taking responsibility for their actions, including what is needed to overcome the problem. Myth: If a problem gambler builds up a debt, you should help them take care of it.
Fact: Quick fix solutions may appear to be the right thing to do. However, bailing the gambler out of debt may actually make matters worse by enabling their gambling problems to continue. Problem gamblers also typically deny or minimize the problem—even to themselves. However, you may have a gambling problem if you:. Feel the need to be secretive about your gambling.
Have trouble controlling your gambling. Once you start gambling, can you walk away? You may feel pushed to borrow, sell, or even steal things for gambling money. Have family and friends worried about you. Denial keeps problem gambling going. If friends and family are worried, listen to them carefully.
The biggest step to overcoming a gambling addiction is realizing that you have a problem. It takes tremendous strength and courage to own up to this, especially if you have lost a lot of money and strained or broken relationships along the way. Many others have been in your shoes and have been able to break the habit and rebuild their lives. You can, too. Learn to relieve unpleasant feelings in healthier ways.
Or after a stressful day at work or following an argument with your spouse? Gambling may be a way to self-soothe unpleasant emotions, unwind, or socialize. Strengthen your support network. If your support network is limited, there are ways to make new friends without relying on visiting casinos or gambling online. Try reaching out to colleagues at work, joining a sports team or book club, enrolling in an education class, or volunteering for a good cause.
Join a peer support group. Gamblers Anonymous, for example, is a step recovery program patterned after Alcoholics Anonymous. A key part of the program is finding a sponsor, a former gambler who has experience remaining free from addiction and can provide you invaluable guidance and support. Seek help for underlying mood disorders. Depression , stress , substance abuse , or anxiety can both trigger gambling problems and be made worse by compulsive gambling.
The Internet has made gambling far more accessible and, therefore, harder for recovering addicts to avoid relapse. Online casinos and bookmakers are open all day, every day for anyone with a smartphone or access to a computer. One way to stop gambling is to remove the elements necessary for gambling to occur in your life and replace them with healthier choices. The four elements needed for gambling to continue are:. A decision: For gambling to happen, you need to make the decision to gamble.
If you have an urge: stop what you are doing and call someone, think about the consequences to your actions, tell yourself to stop thinking about gambling, and find something else to do immediately. Money: Gambling cannot occur without money.
Get rid of your credit cards, let someone else be in charge of your money, have the bank make automatic payments for you, close online betting accounts, and keep only a limited amount of cash on you. Schedule enjoyable recreational time for yourself that has nothing to do with gambling.
A game: Without a game or activity to bet on there is no opportunity to gamble. Tell gambling establishments you frequent that you have a gambling problem and ask them to restrict you from entering. Remove gambling apps and block gambling sites on your smartphone and computer. Maintaining recovery from gambling addiction depends a lot on finding alternative behaviors you can substitute for gambling.
Some examples include:. Feeling the urge to gamble is normal, but as you build healthier choices and a strong support network, resisting cravings will become easier. When a gambling craving strikes:. Avoid isolation. Call a trusted family member, meet a friend for coffee, or go to a Gamblers Anonymous meeting. Postpone gambling. As you wait, the urge to gamble may pass or become weak enough to resist. Visualize what will happen if you give in to the urge to gamble.
Distract yourself with another activity , such as going to the gym, watching a movie, or practicing a relaxation exercise for gambling cravings. Overcoming a gambling addiction is a tough process. You may slip from time to time; the important thing is to learn from your mistakes and continue working towards recovery. Talk to your doctor or mental health professional about different treatment options, including:.
Inpatient or residential treatment and rehab programs. These are aimed at those with severe gambling addiction who are unable to avoid gambling without round-the-clock support. Treatment for underlying conditions contributing to your compulsive gambling, including substance abuse or mental health problems such as depression, anxiety, OCD, or ADHD. This could include therapy, medication, and lifestyle changes. Problem gambling can sometimes be a symptom of bipolar disorder , so your doctor or therapist may need to rule this out before making a diagnosis.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy. CBT for gambling addiction focuses on changing unhealthy gambling behaviors and thoughts, such as rationalizations and false beliefs. It can also teach you how to fight gambling urges and solve financial, work, and relationship problems caused by problem gambling. Therapy can provide you with the tools for coping with your addiction that will last a lifetime.
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