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Preventing Relapse in Gambling Addiction Recovery

February 22, 2024 Kevin Anyango

As someone who has struggled with gambling addiction for a long time, I understand firsthand the challenges of preventing the relapse of gambling addiction. One moment, you feel like you are finally gaining back control, and the next, there is this overwhelming urge to gamble. In this article, I'll be sharing my experience with preventing a gambling addiction relapse, as well as proactive strategies to sustain long-term recovery.

Understanding Gambling Addiction Relapses

Relapse is the return to addictive behavior (in this case, gambling) after a period of abstinence. In my experience, there are three stages of relapse: emotional, mental, and physical.

  1. Emotional relapse -- This begins with subtle shifts in emotions and behaviors, such as increased stress, irritability, or isolation. 
  2. Mental relapse -- This involves thoughts of returning to gambling, rationalizing past behavior, or romanticizing the "good times" associated with gambling. You start feeling like you are missing out and life in recovery is boring.
  3. Physical relapse -- This marks the actual return to gambling behavior.

Causes and Signs of Gambling Relapse

Slipping back into gambling can be triggered by a multitude of factors. In my experience, the main ones are stress, financial difficulties, and relationship problems. For me, it was financial problems. I had pumped all my cash into a project, and unfortunately, it didn't work out. I felt like I was a failure, and to escape, I returned to gambling. I wanted something to distract me, and gambling worked just fine.

Identifying the various triggers and ways you can manage them is crucial in preventing gambling addiction relapse. You must also recognize warning signs that might include mood swings, being increasingly secretive about your finances, neglecting personal responsibilities, and lying to loved ones.

How to Prevent Gambling Addiction Relapse

Here are some things you can do to prevent gambling addiction relapses:

  • Identify your triggers -- Know the possible things that can push you to gamble and avoid situations that might tempt you.
  • Develop better coping mechanisms -- Learn healthy coping mechanisms to manage stress, anxiety, and gambling cravings. These can be meditation, yoga, journaling, etc. 
  • Limit access to money -- If you find having cash at your disposal challenging, you can give a trusted family member control of your finances. 
  • Remove access to gambling apps and websites -- Unlike some years ago, there are now so many gambling websites and apps, and you can bet at the click of a button. This makes it more challenging, especially since a phone is not something you can do without in today's age. I recommend self-exclusion. 
  • Reach out for support -- Talk to trusted friends, family, and other recovering gambling addicts about your feelings and struggles.

Relapse is not a sign of failure but a part of the process. Understanding the triggers and signs of gambling relapses can help you take proactive steps that will keep you on track in your gambling addiction recovery journey. Check out this video below for more:

APA Reference
Anyango, K. (2024, February 22). Preventing Relapse in Gambling Addiction Recovery, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, April 13 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/recoveringfrommentalillness/2024/2/preventing-relapse-in-gambling-addiction-recovery



Author: Kevin Anyango

Kevin Anyango likes to say, "I am still me, no matter my mental health." Find Kevin on Twitter

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