The decision to stop gambling can be the beginning of a journey that can bring quite unexpected problems. Facing those problems can be easier if we know what to expect. So, what common problems are we likely to encounter when they decide to stop gambling?
- It’s not enough to just decide to stop. We need to have a plan to stop. When the urge hits, we need to have a list of strategies on hand to help us to resist the urge, such as a friend we can call, a way to make money inaccessible, or an alternative activity.
- Many of us need to learn how to maintain our motivation through what can be a difficult period of months. Maintaining our motivation in the face of momentary temptation can be a challenge, but maintaining that motivation over time can be even worse. Gambling Help counsellors can help you find and develop strategies to keep going when your motivation starts to wane. Keeping your goal and the reason for the goal in your mind will be important.
- Gambling often isn’t the root cause of our problems. Some of us use gambling as a distraction from anxiety or as a way to fill time in the face of loneliness. If gambling has been a way of ‘solving’ other problems in our lives, those problems will not cease to exist when we decide to quit. Our plan needs to include strategies to tackle our problems more directly - for example, we might need to see a therapist about anxiety, or join a community group to ease our feelings of loneliness.
- Gambling has often become a habit. We need to have a plan to interrupt unconscious habits and patterns. A counsellor or further reading on the topic of habit can, for example, help you find and repeat the actions you enjoy so that your brain stores them as new habits in your non-gambling life. Practicing mindfulness can be useful to tackle this aspect of our decision to quit!
- Gambling may have caused other problems in our lives: we may be experiencing financial, health, or relationship difficulties. We will need to deal with those problems as we move on from gambling, for example by seeing a financial counsellor.
- Lastly, we will have to develop a new lifestyle that is not centered around gambling. This can be surprisingly hard if our lives and friendships have been centered on the local club or hotel. It’s ok though, there is life outside of the local club, and we can find it! We can find constructive new hobbies that help us meet people and lead rewarding lives beyond gambling.
If you’re ready to reach out to a qualified counsellor in your region, you can call us on 1800 858 858. We’re here to help you come up with a plan that works for you.
You can also reach out to peers who are also making changes to find their way out of gambling. Check out the Gambling Help Online peer support forums to see how your peers are navigating their journey.