For many people, the holiday season can be filled with celebrations and gatherings. They bring together family members and friends of all ages to catch up, share meals, and, often, play games. For a recovering problem gambler, the holiday season can be filled with many opportunities to gamble with the people around them, which may threaten their gambling addiction recovery. How?
- Poker and other card games are played by family and friends around the kitchen table
- Scratch-off tickets are given as gifts
- Holiday sports events provide opportunities to place bets on winners and outcomes
- The holiday season is a time many individuals take trips to resorts and other destinations with unique gambling options
There are many more situations that can cause problem gamblers to feel the urge to gamble. If you are in recovery from a gambling addiction, you must avoid gambling “triggers” in order for your recovery to continue successfully.
What can you do?
Avoiding Holiday Gambling Addiction Triggers
Budgeting – If you are a newly recovering gambling addict, you may have already put someone else in charge of your finances. If you are concerned about urges to gamble during the holidays, make sure you do not have access to a surplus of funds or any significant amounts of cash that could raise temptation.
Family Gathering Decisions – Request that family and friends refrain from gambling when playing games together this holiday season. Card games can be enjoyable without the transfer of money or other material goods. While it may be wise for you to refrain from playing these games at all to keep from being reminded of your past gaming activity and the feelings associated with wins and losses, a request that no gambling occurs will allow others to play without posing any immediate danger to you.
Avoid Dangerous Gifts – Similarly, request that no holiday gifts come in the forms of cash or scratch-off tickets. Both could trigger the urge to gamble “just this once,” and that action can spiral into the return of a your more serious addiction.
Know Yourself – Remember what caused you to gamble before, and make sure your behaviors and habits do not change during the holiday season and trigger gambling impulses. This may mean monitoring your alcohol intake, turning down vacation daytrips to casinos with friends, and making sure no extra vacation time causes you any feelings of boredom or loneliness.
This Holiday Season, Know Where To Find Help for Your Gambling Addiction
As you prepare for this holiday season, make sure you know where to find help if you are bothered by a strong urge to gamble again. The hours that local counselors and treatment centers may vary during the holiday season, so make sure you have the NYS HOPEline number (1-877-8-HOPENY or 1-877-846-7369) accessible in case of an emergency. Counselors are available through the NYS HOPEline 24 hours per day, seven days per week – even during the holidays. If you need help to keep from gambling, call immediately.