If you ask gamblers, they will tell you that the reasons why they’re gambling:
- They are bored and gambling fills their time.
- Gambling makes them forget their problems and frustrations in life.
- The act of gambling relaxes them, soothes them and in a way, becomes a celebratory habit.
For non-gamblers, these reasons will appear superficial and even irrelevant. Really? Gamblers want to waste away their money just because they’re bored, stressed or happy?
I am not siding with those who love to gamble. In fact, I know firsthand how it feels to be a person whose loved one is a gambling addict. It is not something that I would wish on anyone – not even my enemies, if I had any. The whole life experience is truly terrible, which is why I am happy to share some things that I know about gambling addicts and their road to recovery. Perhaps, as Damon Dye, EdD, LMHC, NCGC II, BACC used to say, “They gamble to reach the high. They gamble to escape emotional pain for hours, for days, until the money runs out. They quickly relish the winnings, investing nearly all of it back over the next days and weeks. They slowly destroy their lives. They get caught in the cycle.”
The three things mentioned above are what they call gambling addiction triggers. So, every time a gambling addicts is bored, feeling depressed or at times, happy – these feelings can trigger his irresistible need to gamble. But, with great will and a massive dose of determination, a person’s addiction with gambling can be curbed and fixed. Of course, with the help of therapy services, the gambling problem can be halted.
Anyway, here are tips on avoiding gambling every time you are bored:
- You must try out creative hobbies like drawing, sketching, painting, sewing or gardening, among many others. Harnessing a skill, instead of gambling your time away because of boredom, is a very rewarding alternative. It will make the person feel good about himself and of course, the whole act is fulfilling. “When you challenge yourself to learn a new skill, you are building your intellectual health. People who pay attention to their intellectual wellness often find that they have better concentration, improved memory, and better critical thinking skills,” says Marjie L. Roddick, MA, NCC, LMHC.
- Sports activities or getting physical is also a great way to dodge boredom gambling. Running marathons, playing tennis or hanging out in the gym are all way better than sitting in front of the slot machines or swiping cards on the table. Physical activities will also improve your overall well-being and keep you in tiptop shape.
- Read a book. If you were once a great reader before your insatiable desire for gambling started, go back to it and make reading a habit, once again. This time, you can read about anything you like – medical studies, comedies, short stories or whatever genre your heart desires.
Now, if you are gambling because you’re frustrated, then, you can do these:
- According to Marie Hartwell-Walker, Ed.D., a licensed psychologist and marriage and family counselor, “Studies have shown that problem behaviors are generally reduced by 20% if you write every time you have the urge.” Buy a journal notebook and write your feelings down every time you have the urge to gamble. It can be positive feelings or negative feelings – happiness, sadness, relief, stress or whatever. It is very therapeutic and a great avenue for you to jot down your memories and reflections.
- Go to a yoga class or practice self-meditation. These two activities will clear your mind and relax your body. It can also teach you to breath correctly and can give you a feeling of total calmness.
- Walking is also a relaxation technique which can help you with your gambling addiction. Enjoy the fresh air as you walk and with that, you can release all your tensions and inhibitions.
You can also let go of gambling when you’re in the mood to celebrate by doing these things:
- Celebrate with your family or friends. Go to a theme park. Watch a movie. Visit the zoo. Go to different places except for gambling institutions. You will realize that happiness can also be found in other things aside from poker chips and a deck of card.
- Another way to make a difference and be happy about yourself is by doing volunteer work. You can do this too instead of throwing away your hard-earned cash with the roll of a die.
- Explore the city. This can be an exhilarating activity.
Remember that at first, it won’t be easy. But, as you try to ward off the gambling urge, you will soon realize that each day you spend outside the casino is an achievement on your part. Surround yourself with people who love and care for you – those who are true to you and support you during recovery. These people are your family, friends and your therapist. It will be hard, but it can be done. Believe that you can do it.