What is an urge and why does it matter?

An urge is a strong desire or impulse to do something; when you are in the moment they can be difficult to identify. You may not notice these urges until you stop gambling, and when you do they can feel unpleasant.

This might be particularly noticeable when you can’t gamble i.e. You have run out of money, but still really want to.

While it might feel hard to deal with your urges, recognising and dealing with them can be a really powerful part of recovery.

Gamblers describe urges in different ways, it can feel like:

  • Compulsion
  • An Adrenaline Rush
  • Excitement.

When you are experiencing an urge, you may feel the need to get temporary relief by gambling, but remember the urge will return once you have stopped.

Most people with gambling problems say the urge is overwhelming and feels impossible to resist, but it is possible to beat these urges here is how.

What can I do?

Your brain cannot maintain an urge to gamble indefinitely. If you wait long enough, the urge will go away without gambling.

Some gamblers say this process is like riding a wave into shore, hence why they call it ‘surfing the urge’

Each time the urge passes and you haven’t gambled it reduces the power of the urge and the next time it will feel easier.

When you are feeling this way it can help to have some strategies in place:

  • Keep your money/cards out of reach
  • Try doing something to distract yourself like calling a friend
  • Other activities can help like going for a walk or a run
  • Have a bath or shower as this can relax you
  • Write down how you are feeling and what worked– this can be a great reference for your next urge
  • Chat to one of our Counsellors
  • Seek support on our Forum.

If you have access to money it can be particularly difficult to manage an urge. So if you are going out and may be tempted to gamble, it’s best to leave non-essential money and cards at home, this will allow you to surf the urge until it’s gone.