Decided to quit but not quite sure where to start? Maybe you are looking for some extra strategies to stay away from gambling. This section will give you some of the tools for quitting.

Wanting to stop

Deciding to stop doing something you enjoy can be challenging, there may be times when it feels impossible but remember lots of people have quit gambling and we can help you.

Do your best to stay away from gambling, the ideal outcome is that you stay away. However if you do revert to gambling don’t get down on yourself. You can always get back on track and use the experience to learn how to stop next time.

It is helpful to know lapses 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.

Understand urges

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.

Below are a few different strategies you can try:

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. This is different to urge surfing as the focus is on the person using distraction from the urge to gamble rather than letting it pass without distraction.

Distraction takes the focus temporarily away from the urge and can give you time to rethink your decision to gamble. 

Try the following next time you have the urge to gamble:

  • Relax and focus on staying calm.
  • Take some deep breaths to slow yourself down and refocus on what you can do now.
  • Try to distract yourself with an activity to keep calm, such as a shower or a bath. Or you may read a book, cook or watch a TV show to stop thinking about gambling. Find an activity that suits you.
  • Say to yourself "maybe I won't go, I will see how I feel in an hour" and then go and do something else.

Remember you may find the urge returns when you stop the other activity. If this happens, perhaps try the urge surfing technique as above.

Set a goal that you can achieve if you stop gambling or develop a list of reasons why you made the decision. For example:

  • I will have more money to put towards a holiday.
  • I will be able to hold my head up high.
  • My family will be proud.
  • I will be able to pay my bills.
  • As my savings begin to grow money will have value once again.

Staying quit 

Remember 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.

Many people find engaging in sport fulfilling; this could be anything that gets you moving. From a daily walk or run to joining a gym or team sport. 

When you feel an urge, do something else immediately and keep the following in mind:

  • Limit access to money
  • Surf the urge
  • Distract from the urge 
  • 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 and our healthy hobbies blog have some useful tips.

Surfing urges

The first time you experiencing an urge subside, without gambling, will be a powerful experience.

People who have slowly overcome the urge to gamble say that their thinking becomes clearer and that they are more confident with each urge they conquer, setting them up to beat the next one.

You can learn to manage urges by being aware of an increased desire  to gamble, some people say
an urge is like an adrenaline rush. It can be so exciting and difficult to resist.

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 can 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 are trying to surf the urge it’s helpful to remember:

  • It is important to stay with the urge until it passes by itself; this may take up to an hour the first time. 
  • Each time you resist gambling and the urge subsides it loses its power.
  • The more you resist, the stronger you can become. If you give into the urge and gamble that urge takes control again, but you can take control of it next time.

It is important to limit your access to any cash when you begin the process of surfing the urge as money makes the urges more difficult to resist.

If you do experience an urge and would like assistance, you can contact an online counsellor for more information and support.