It can be really hard to stop gambling. And once you’ve stopped, it takes ongoing work to resist urges to gamble again.
It’s normal to feel the urge to gamble even years after you’ve stopped. The important thing is how you respond to these urges to resist falling back into dangerous gambling habits.
There’s no reason why you can’t fight your gambling urges and maintain your new way of life, and it can help to have a few strategies up your sleeve when things get tough.
We hope these tips help you fight your gambling urges, one day at a time.
Identify your triggers
When you know what triggers your gambling urges, you can work on how to avoid them and/or respond to them in a healthy way. Take notice of when you most feel like gambling and if you can identify a pattern.
Your urge to gamble might increase when you:
- Get paid
- Are bored
- Have a bad day
- Are worried about bills/debt
- Experience relationship stress
- Have been drinking or using drugs.
This daily monitoring sheet from Gambling Help Queensland can help you keep track of your gambling and pick up on any trends. For example, if you notice that you feel like gambling when you drive past a gaming venue on your way home from work, you might like to take a different route to avoid the temptation.
Boredom can be a dangerous state for anyone with an addiction. Just think of the people addicted to their smartphones who can’t sit still for five minutes without mindlessly scrolling through social media apps!
Being bored can make you crave some fun and stimulation, and this is when gambling urges can arise.
You can avoid this by staying busy with fulfilling hobbies and activities. Fill your days with the things you enjoy, whether it’s playing sport, working on a puzzle, or catching up with your loved ones. You may find your urges to gamble decrease when you have an enjoyable routine that keeps you busy and happy.
Remember why you stopped
When those gambling urges get a hold of you and it’s all you can think about, it can be helpful to focus on why you wanted to stop gambling in the first place.
What are your motivations for breaking free from compulsive gambling? Could it be your family? Your job? Financial freedom? More time to spend on the important stuff?
You might like to make a list of these things so you can remember your ‘why’ and all the benefits of being free from harmful gambling behaviours.
Find ways to manage your stress
Stress can be a major contributing factor to problem gambling behaviours. Everyone experiences some level of stress at work and at home, and it’s important to find healthy ways to cope.
Some common ways to manage and reduce stress include:
- Breathing exercises
- Taking a quiet bath
- Listening to relaxing music
- Talking to a trusted friend or family member
- Talking to a professional.
We offer some helpful strategies to manage work stress in this blog post.
If you need someone to talk to about gambling or any other concerns, our counsellors can provide a safe, private, and judgement-free environment. Learn more about our free Gambling Help Services here, or call 1300 364 277 for more information on how we can help you.