Regaining Control

Tools for Quitting

Decided to quit but still battling the urge to gamble? Find out more about keeping the urge to gamble under control.

Want to stop

Deciding to stop doing something you enjoy can be challenging.

It is helpful to know that lapses (a slip up) and relapse (returning to previous levels of gambling) are normal and can happen at any time when you are trying to quit.

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.

The urge to gamble

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. Every time you overcome an urge, you are gaining more and more control.

Urges can come in different forms. Some people notice particular triggers are thoughts (e.g. I'm feeling lucky) while other people experience a particular physical feeling (e.g. butterflies in the stomach, feeling agitated or anxious).

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.


Managing urges

If you do experience an urge there is support available 24 hours 7 days a week, either online, or by calling 1800 858 858.

You can manage urges by being aware of an increased desire or 'urge' to gamble. Learning to cope with urges when they arise is a crucial component to staying quit.

Think of an urge as being like a wave.  Urges 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. To stay in control, you need to learn to ride that wave into shore rather than get dumped.

If you experience an urge, tell yourself that you will wait for a period of time before making the decision to gamble or not. This period could be anywhere from a few minutes to an hour or longer.

Concerned about how you can manage an urge? It is normal to feel this way.

Contact an online counsellor for more information and support.


Delaying the decision

Delaying the decision to gamble allows time for the urge to pass and for you to feel more in control of the decision.

Relax and focus on staying calm. Take some deep breaths to slow yourself down and refocus on what you can do now.  

  • Say to yourself "maybe I will go, I will see how I feel in an hour" and then go and do something else.
  • Set a goal that you can achieve if you stop gambling (e.g. a holiday destination with the money you save from not gambling) or a list of reasons why you made the decision. For example:
    • I will have more money to put towards a holiday with the family
    • I will be able to hold my head up high


Staying quit

Urges do not usually last longer than one hour.







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.

  • Do something immediately. It is difficult to do two things at the same time and if you choose an activity that engages you, you are more likely to forget about the urge to gamble.
  • Seek support from someone you feel you can trust. You don't have to call someone to talk to them about experiencing an urge. You might just want to ring and talk about something completely unrelated to gambling.

Not sure about what activities you can do when dealing with an urge? Maintaining change has some useful tips. Or you can talk to an online counsellor for support.