Finding the Right Coping Skills for Recovery from Problem Gambling
In order to find recovery from compulsive gambling, it is important first to understand you must make some big changes in your life. This may seem hard or even impossible at first, but with the knowledge and support you can find just by calling or texting 888-ADMIT-IT, you will be starting on the right path to problem gambling recovery! A crucial part of the disease of addiction is understanding cravings and finding the right coping skills to manage these cravings. Even though you may have chosen to quit gambling, it doesn’t mean you will not feel urges and cravings for some time down the line, possibly for the rest of your life.
Gambling addiction is recognized as a disorder and has established diagnostic criteria. Much like a diagnosis for a heart condition, where you would see the need to change your diet, your exercise habits, and how you take care of yourself, recovery from problem gambling requires significant adjustments to your lifestyle. Always be mindful if what you are doing – or planning to do – could increase the risk of a relapse. Something has changed in you and your life, and you now have to learn it adapt to it. This is how it is with addiction. You must acknowledge it every day to be able to effectively manage it and stay the course in recovery, so a relapse does not sneak up on you.
Think about when you have the urge to go gamble – is it during times of high stress? When arguing with a loved one? When struggling with finances? All of these types of stressors will continue when you stop gambling and will at first make it seem impossible to fight the urges. Gambling was the unhealthy coping skill used in the past, so now what can you use? After adopting healthy coping skills, and as time goes by without gambling, the cravings will come further and further apart and not last as long. This is why it’s so important to ride out the cravings, no matter how seemingly impossible, and where your coping skills “Tool Box” comes in!
Come up with a “Tool Box” of coping skills for yourself. Here are some ideas to help you get started:
- Don’t make any decisions when you are in a highly-charged emotional or physical state.
- Put a sticky note on your mirror for the morning, by the front door, or on your rearview mirror in your car that says: “I will not gamble today.”
- Accept that cravings are a normal process in recovery and stay focused on the things that are in your control
- Use a support network to help ride out cravings and share them with others– whether that’s a trusted loved one you can call or text or in a self-help support group meeting like Gamblers Anonymous
- Use positive self-talk all through your day
- Eat well and exercise
- Stay busy and focused, whether that means spending time with friends and family or picking up a new hobby; any “free time” in your day could cause a craving
- Recognize your warning signs and triggers and if possible, stay away from places and people you associate with gambling
- Reward yourself for not gambling
- Always plan ahead and know how you will use your coping skills “Tool Box” when an urge strikes
Can’t Walk Away? Keep Help and Hope in Your Pocket with the 888-ADMIT-IT HelpLine!
Whether you don’t know where to start, have been in recovery for years, or if you are still on the fence and want to learn more about options and free resources available to you, call or text the 24/7, Confidential, and Multilingual 888-ADMIT-IT Problem Gambling HelpLine any time of day or night! Specialists who understand what you are up against – and know the resources that are proven to make a difference – are standing by.