The thrill of a win can become addictive, but the odds won’t always be in your favour. Here’s how to curb those gambling urges before they spiral out of control

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Problem gambling can be defined as an activity whereby individuals are unable to resist impulses to gamble, thus leading to serious adverse personal or social consequences. The British Gambling Prevalence Survey in 2010 was the first study in this series to be conducted after the full implementation of the Gambling Act 2005. This showed that 0.7– 0.9% of adults aged 16 and over were “problem” gamblers.

So, how can you stop, and stay stopped, if you have developed a problem with gambling?

"Invariably the best time to stop is now"

There is no ideal time to stop. Invariably the best time to stop is now. Stopping problem gambling can be extremely difficult, but once you have stopped, the ongoing task is to maintain abstinence. For most problem gamblers, if not all, an abstinence-based approach to recovery is needed in order to enjoy a full and wholesome life, free from active addiction. A healthy self-care regime is needed to maintain abstinence. Here’s five ways of curbing gambling urges:

1. Stay busy and beat boredom

It’s important to keep your brain active and focused on achieving tasks a er you stop. Problem gamblers are used to the high octane energy of active addiction, and typically struggle with periods of boredom in their lives. Therefore, try to set daily activity lists in order to stay busy, as this will act as a buffer to resist the temptation of gambling.

<Beat boredom

2. Re-engage with an old hobby

Gamblers become single-minded in their pursuit of the next bet. They will invariably have lost interest in old hobbies, so it’s important to rekindle old passions once you stop gambling, as they will boost your self-esteem and self-confidence.

3. Watch out for ‘special’ events

Research by RA McCormick and JI Taber in the Journal of Abnormal Psychology in 1988 shows that problem gamblers struggle with the management of impulse control, and with delaying gratification. It can be beneficial to strengthen your resolve before special events such as cup finals, boxing matches, or annual horse races. It would be best to avoid the increased hype in the media surrounding such events, especially when bookmaking firms offer special offers.

4. Keep boosting your stress management regimes

Problem gamblers have often reported that stress can be a major contributing factor in a relapse from gambling recovery. Finding healthy ways to cope with stress will be a huge factor in maintaining abstinence. Healthy coping strategies could be physical exercise, practising meditation, or talking to a trusted friend.

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5. Practise gratitude

Maintaining a daily gratitude list will help to boost your serenity levels and peace of mind. You will be less likely to need to search for excitement if you cultivate a grateful attitude. Give it a go, it works, it really does.


If you have been affected by this article and want to talk to a professional, visit Counselling Directory to find a counsellor in your local area.