Suggestions for Coping with Urges to Gamble
Table of Contents
Many compulsive gamblers, especially
those in early stages of recovery, experience urges to gamble. Repetition
of the gambling behavior over a relatively long period of time,
combined with thoughts of gambling and associated pleasurable feelings,
causes the compulsive gambler to experience cravings. Sometimes
these urges to bet are so intense and overpowering that they cause
the gambler to relapse.
Suggestions to Prevent Urges From Occurring
Attend Gamblers Anonymous meetings
as often as needed, but at least once a week.
Become more involved in the Gamblers Anonymous
Program. Take a Trusted Servant position.
Telephone other GA members on a regular
Read and re-read the Gamblers Anonymous
Combo Book. Many GA members have said, "Everything
I need to stay away from a bet is right here in this little
Ask another Gamblers Anonymous member
to be your sponsor.
Read and LIVE the Gamblers Anonymous
Steps of Recovery. At first, it is OK to have a healthy
skepticism about working the Steps. However, thousands of GA
members have reported that the more they become involved in
the Steps of Recovery, the less likely they are to gamble. It
is suggested that you ask another GA member - preferably your
sponsor - to help guide you through the Steps.
Don't go in or near establishments
where gambling is available, including web sites on
the Internet. Shop in stores or supermarkets that are gambling-free
or where gambling is out of sight.
Don't look at anything that will
remind you of gambling - for example, the sports or
stock market sections of the newspaper, lottery tickets, racing
programs, or advertisements for casinos or other forms of gambling.
Don't associate with people who gamble.
(This may mean curtailing relationships with friends or relatives.)
Avoid getting caught up in conversations
Carry only the bare minimum amount
of money that you need for the day. If possible, have
your paycheck direct-deposited or put someone
you trust in charge of your finances. Destroy your credit,
debit, and ATM cards - anything that will put a barrier
between you and excess cash.
Establish an anniversary date
- that is, your first Gamblers Anonymous meeting after your
last bet. Many GA members gain a healthy inner confidence from
knowing that they have acquired the habit of not wagering over
Change your attitude. There
is a world of difference in the statements "I have to stop
gambling" and "I want to stop gambling." Think
about it. If you have to do anything, then you probably won't
Change your behavior. This
is one of the most difficult tasks in all of human endeavors,
let alone in the Gamblers Anonymous Program. However, it states
in the yellow combo book that it is necessary for a compulsive
gambler to bring about a character change in order to prevent
a relapse. GA members have reported that character defects such
as anger, impatience, laziness, self-ptiy, etc., have led them
back to gambling. Replacing negative habits with healthy ones
is vital for maintaining abstinence.
Consider getting your body into better
physical condition. It has been said, "Bring the
body and the mind will follow." If compulsive gambling
is a sickness of the mind, then it makes sense for a compulsive
gambler to be in relatively good physical condition. Remember
the saying: "Healthy body, healthy mind."
Suggestions for When You Have an Urge to Gamble
First acknowledge the urge. Become acutely aware of it - how
you feel and what is going on in your mind. Then say to yourself,
"Oh, OK. I am now having an urge to gamble. Right now I
want to gamble. Say to yourself "TOO BAD... I DON'T GAMBLE ANYMORE!"
OK. So your urge to gamble is very strong. Again, acknowledge
the urge and become aware of what is happening and say to yourself,
"OK, maybe I'll gamble in 10 minutes." Wait
10 minutes. If the urge is still there, say to yourself,
"OK, maybe I'll gamble in another 10 minutes." Then
find something else to do for 10 minutes. If the urge persists,
keep putting off gambling for 10-minutes stretches.
Keep doing this. The urge to gamble will pass.
Make believe your mind is a slide projector
and the thoughts that enter your brain are slides. Go to a quiet
place, close your eyes and CHANGE THE SLIDE!
Refuse to entertain thoughts about gambling. Think about a family
member, a loved one, your job, a pleasant activity - anything
but gambling. You can do it if you quiet your mind and concentrate.
Accept the fact that you cannot gamble safely.
This may seem painfully obvious, but many GA members have reported
relapsing after having debated mentally with themselves on this
point. Among some of the common inner arguments: "It'll
be different this time," "I'm not that bad yet,"
"I'll quit once I get even," and "I'm due."
Acceptance is one of the key components of the GA program.
Say the Serenity Prayer: "God grant
me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage
to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference."
Repeat the prayer until the urge dissipates. A quieting of the
mind will quiet the urge to gamble.
Work Recovery Steps Two and Three. Envision
yourself giving the urge to gamble to a Higher Power. Many GA
members live by saying, "Let go and let God."
Go to a Gamblers Anonymous meeting regardless of
the way you feel.
Go to a quiet place and meditate. One simple method might
be to close your eyes and stare out into space, visualizing
the urge as a concrete object (it doesn't matter what it is).
Concentrate on it for several minutes. As you hold the object
in you mind, visualize it breaking up into tiny pieces. Your
urge to gamble will disintegrate with it.
Telephone someone you trust. Tell him or
her about your urge to gamble. Leaving cash, checks, and credit cards behind, go and
Stop dwelling on the urge, start a new activity
such as reading a book.
Get outside of yourself.
and help someone else.
Think the bet all the way through and weigh
the consequences. Most of us don't consider the possibility
that if we gamble, we might lose. Consider the possibility that
you will lose. Think of all the other times you have lost.
forms of gambling are losing propositions. You will
probably lose again. Will losing this money - in addition to
money already lost and problems you already have - really make
you feel better? And if you were to win, what would happen to
the money? What has happened to all the money from past winnings?
Where is it? What is the cause of your current financial situation?
Isn't it gambling that has put you into this predicament?
Can't you see yourself betting away any winnings - PLUS MORE?
Isn't it true that with a win you might pay off a few bills,
yet set aside some cash for MORE GAMBLING? Isn't it true that
any winnings would be used as ammunition to keep waging the
war of gambling?
Write about the pros and cons of gambling in your
life. Take a sheet of paper and divide it into two
columns. On the left side, list all the good things that gambling
has given you. On the right side, list all the bad things that
have happened to you as a result of your gambling. Be through
and honest. (Note: You may want to rate each item from 1 - 10
in terms of importance, with 10 being the most important and
1 being the least. When you're through, total up each column
and compare the score.) Once the list is complete, use this
tool as a reminder of the effects of gambling in your life.
Make a decision about how you will spend your free
time instead of gambling.
Make a decision that you won't gamble JUST FOR TODAY!
Again, these are all merely suggestions.
Why not figure out the ones that will work best for you?
HERE to find out the next meeting location!