How to Stop Gambling
Most of the people who contact our service are interested in one thing: stopping gambling completely. The vast majority of people we work with have made numerous attempts to quit gambling and, unfortunately, relapsed. So, just like you, they have realised that they cannot gamble in a moderate or recreational way. Having an unhealthy/addictive relationship with gambling is not a problem – as long as you don’t gamble. The real problem is repeatedly convincing yourself that you can gamble safely – when you have so much lived experience evidence to the contrary. Many people cannot have a healthy relationship with gambling – just as many people cannot have a healthy relationship with alcohol or other drugs. While the Government and Gambling Industry must take their fair share of responsibility for facilitating gambling addiction, they can’t do your recovery for you (unfortunately). So, here are some tips for starting out on your recovery journey. While some of these are uncomfortable, I know from working with hundreds of people with gambling problems, that the people who do all of these are much less likely to relapse than the people who ‘cherry-pick’ the easier ones. Self Exclude from all gambling venues that you visit regularly (local betting shops/casinos/arcades), as well as self-excluding from all online accounts. Unfortunately, as Ireland does not yet have a multi-operator self-exclusion scheme, either for land-based or online gambling, this can require a bit of work. Most people also find it embarrassing to sign a self-exclusion form in a land-based gambling venue. It’s certainly not fun – but it can be a really important part of stopping gambling and staying stopped.Blocking Software such as Gamban, provides a ‘belt and braces’ approach, if you gamble online. We recommend installing it on all devices that you have access to. It blocks access to all gambling sites and apps. Make sure to self-exclude from online account, before you install the software.Financial Accountability to another person (who you trust) is a really useful tool. Most people hate doing this, but it really can help – especially in the early stages (first 6 months). It can either take the form of handing over complete financial control to a trusted person or being accountable to them for what you’re spending your money on. It usually doesn’t feel great and it can, sometimes, cause conflict – but, if you don’t have money, you can’t gamble. Simples. Fill Your Time with other activities that you enjoy. Many people spend a lot of their free time gambling. It’s really important to fill that time with something else, that you find interesting, challenging or enjoyable – or else your mind will keep wandering back to thoughts of gambling, through boredom. Talk About Your Gambling. This could be at a Gamblers Anonymous Meeting, or on a one-to-one basis with a counsellor. Residential treatment may also be an option. Many people will attend meetings and also go for counselling or residential treatment. The most important thing to remember, is that recovery from a gambling problem is possible – especially if you make the tough decisions and put the right structures in place. If you would like to get some inspiration from other people who have recovered from addiction to gambling, check out our Recovery Story podcast episodes. It’s also worth listening to our special podcast episode ‘Recovery 101’, where we discuss these tips in more detail (featuring Tony O’Reilly, co-author of ‘Tony10’).