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Finding Recovery from Compulsive Gambling Addiction – Understanding and Coping with Urges

When it comes to finding recovery from a gambling addiction, the first step is to understand that significant changes in your life are necessary. This may seem difficult or even impossible at first, but with the knowledge and support that you can find by simply calling or texting 888-ADMIT-IT, you’ll be on the right path to recovery. A crucial part of the addiction is understanding the cravings and finding the appropriate coping skills to manage them. Even if you’ve decided to stop gambling, it doesn’t mean that you won’t experience urges and cravings, possibly for the rest of your life.

Gambling addiction is recognized as a disorder and has established diagnostic criteria. Similar to a diagnosis for a heart condition, where you would see the need to change your diet, exercise habits, and self-care, recovery from compulsive gambling requires significant adjustments in your lifestyle. Always be aware of what you are doing, or planning to do, as it could increase the risk of a relapse. Something has changed in you and in your life, and now you must learn to adapt to it. That’s how addiction works. You must recognize it every day to effectively manage it and stay on the path to recovery, so that a relapse doesn’t catch you off guard.

Think about when you feel the urge to gamble. Does it happen during times of high stress? When you argue with a loved one? When you have financial difficulties? All of these types of stressors will continue when you stop gambling and, in the beginning, make it seem impossible to resist the cravings. Gambling was the unhealthy coping skill used in the past, so what can you use now? After adopting healthy coping skills, and as time goes on without gambling, the cravings will become rarer and shorter. This is why it’s so important to resist the urges, no matter how impossible they may seem, and that’s where your “Toolbox” of coping skills comes in!

Create a “Toolbox” of coping skills for yourself. Here are some ideas to get started:
– Do not make important decisions when you are in a highly charged emotional or physical state.
– Place a sticky note on your mirror in the morning, next to the front door, or on your car’s rearview mirror that says “Today I will not gamble.”
– Accept that cravings are a normal process in recovery and focus on things that are under your control.
– Use a support network to resist cravings, either with a trusted loved one you can call or text, or in a support group meeting like “Gamblers Anonymous.”
– Speak positively to yourself throughout the day.
– Eat well and exercise.
– Stay busy and focused, whether spending time with friends and family or adopting a new hobby.
– Recognize your warning signs and triggers, and if possible, stay away from places and people you associate with gambling.
– Reward yourself for not gambling.
– Always plan ahead and learn how to use your “Toolbox” of coping skills when an urge comes your way.

If you’re feeling trapped, keep help and hope in your pocket with the 888-ADMIT-IT Helpline! Whether you don’t know where to start, have been in recovery for years, or are still undecided and want to learn more about the options and free resources available to you, call or text the 888-ADMIT-IT Gambling HelpLine! This line is 24/7, confidential, and multilingual, available day or night. Specialists who understand what you’re facing and know the resources that have made a difference are there for you.