Happy 2015! We are officially one week into the New Year, and working hard to maintain our New Year’s Resolutions. Was your New Year’s resolution to stop or reduce your gambling? CONGRATULATIONS!
Did you know that about 45% of Americans make at least one New Year’s Resolution, but only three out of four of us are able to maintain our resolution after one week?
For many of us, our resolutions revolve around self-improvement or education, weight, money and relationships. Keeping resolutions can be difficult after the hype of the holiday season dies down and we return to our daily routines. Beginning recovery from gambling addiction, or any addiction, can be even tougher.
One key to keeping your New Year’s Resolution is to change your lifestyle to keep things that trigger your desire to gamble from causing you to make bad decisions that threaten your recovery. These lifestyle changes include altering how you spend your time, who you spend your time with and other things you may struggle to get used to.
Lifestyle Change Examples
People: There may be one person or a group of people that influences you to gamble frequently. If there are people in your social life or your workplace that routinely gamble in your presence, explain to them your decision to stop gambling.
We understand you’ll want to try to continue social relationships with these people. Suggest alternate ways you can continue to spend time together. If they choose to decline your invitation, request that they not gamble in your presence. Hopefully, they will support your recovery, but be prepared for situations where not everyone will be willing to accommodate your changes. If that is the case, exclude yourself from social situations you know are dangerous. Counseling can help you figure out how to deal with circumstances where people continue to encourage your gambling.
Time Management: A common problem gambling trigger is boredom. Think about new activities, programs, classes and volunteer opportunities that you can spend your free time doing. There are many healthy alternatives to spending your time gambling. Your family, friends, counselors and other recovering gamblers may have ideas to help you get started.
Stress Management: Gambling to avoid stress and frustration is very common, as repeatedly placing bets can distract you from problems and worries you may have. Work to find other methods of relaxation, such as neighborhood strolls, visits to places such as calm coffee shops and parks, and brief naps.
Making New Goals: The start of your recovery is a new beginning for you. While stopping your gambling is a huge goal, this time is also a tremendous opportunity to set other goals not related to gambling. What can you aspire to accomplish? Maybe it’s learning a new craft or starting a new exercise routine. You might create a list of books you want to read or daytrips you want to make. These new goals will provide a constant reminder why you’ve made the decision to end your gambling recovery.
Expression of Emotions: Stress and frustration aren’t the only emotions that can lead to problem gambling. Many emotions, from happiness to anger, are common addiction triggers. If certain emotions lead you to desire to gamble, talk with your counselor or other recovering gambling addicts to help you find ways to better handle these emotions.
Staying Safe After Problem Gambling
To find out more about making lifestyle changes, and to learn about other parts of the recovery process that occur once you’ve quit gambling, read our e-book, “Staying Safe After Problem Gambling.” This e-book provides information on a variety of recovery topics, such as educating family and friends about your compulsive gambling, making necessary lifestyle changes and staying clear of other addictions during your problem gambling recovery.
As always, professional help is available 24/7 at the NYS HOPEline. Whether you’re considering quitting gambling or you’re in the midst of your recovery, find support to help you stop your addiction with a simple phone call.
You can reach the NYS HOPEline now. Call 1-877-8-HOPENY.