IF YOU’RE READING THIS…
there is a good chance you have lost more than you can afford, chased losses, borrowed money, felt guilty, had stress and anxiety, fallen out with friends and family…all because of your gambling. If you’re a problem gambler then one thing is for certain, the biggest win you will ever have, is stopping gambling, Based on my own experiences and learning from my recovery routes and other people in recovery, here are my top tips (the right kind of tips 😊) on turning things around.
ADMITTING TO YOURSELF THAT YOU HAVE A PROBLEM
This can be difficult and scary, but it’s the foundation you need, to kick on with a recovery. Without it, you may be on rocky ground and won’t be able to throw yourself into getting well.
REACHING OUT AND ASKING FOR HELP
I tried for many years to stop on my own, and I promise you, it’s almost impossible to do it alone. Asking for help and having that support is massive for any addict. I know this can be scary, but it will be one of the best steps you ever take and I’ve not met one recovering addict who wishes they hadn’t asked for help. There are some excellent treatment and support services out there (See useful links page) and lots of people who have been in your shoes and now living a life in recovery. Whatever route you decide to take, you will develop a support network, which is massively important to anyone that is struggling.
BEING HONEST WITH THOSE AROUND YOU
No doubt if you’re a compulsive gambler, you’re a good liar. The two always seem to go hand in hand. It’s important for any recovering addict that they are honest. Lies will only keep you sick. It will also lift the pressure off your shoulders that you have been carrying around for a long time and give some clarity. I had a terrible habit of thinking 80% of the truth was enough, but that 20% that I always held back kept my gambling addiction going.
ROUTINE AND STRUCTURE
I imagine your routine has been heavily focussed around gambling. For you to stop this, it’s important you have a solid routine and structure. One of the best and most simple bit of advice I can give to any recovering addict is write a weekly planner. Have some control over your week and what you’re doing. Fill the voids where you would usually gamble and replace them with something constructive. Seeing a family member, going for a walk, exercising, reading, cleaning the house (my new addiction). If you’re breaking this structure at any time, ask yourself why.
Sleep plays a massive part in both your mental and physical health. It can help reduce stress, improve your memory, help your body repair, improve your mood and something that is massively important to anyone in recovery. Try to get 7-8 hours sleep at night and go to bed and wake up at similar times.
DO NOT HANDLE MONEY
A gambling addict in the early days of recovery should not be handling money. Simple! If you need money for your lunch at work, take a packed lunch. If you need money for fuel, put it in prior in the presence of a family member. If you need money for travel, buy your weekly/monthly pass in the presence of a family member/friend….and so on. Money to a gambling addict is fuel to carry on gambling. Remove that risk.
You need to put as many barriers in place as possible. We all know if you want to find a way around this you will, but it’s important you make it as difficult as possible. Self-exclusion, deleting betting apps, I’d even go as far as saying if you don’t need a smart phone for work then change your phone and get rid of your iPad!
EXPECTATIONS OF OTHERS
Don’t have any. It’s you who has the gambling problem. Everyone’s family situations are different, everyone’s jobs are different, everyone’s friends are different. We are all dealing with different personalities and that’s just life. Hopefully in time you can establish trust with the people close to you, but this won’t happen overnight. I’m still rebuilding 6 years.
SPEAK TO YOUR GP
If you are at risk of self-harm or having any suicidal thoughts, then I strongly suggest you speak to your GP.
*If you’re a family member/friend reading this looking for support you can find links to support groups on our ‘useful links’ page
If you feel you need further information/advice please book a support call here.