Relapse can be a brutal but essential learning point for some people recovering from gambling addiction. Relapse is a powerful experience that can become an important part of the recovery process when addressed properly. It can be the necessary evil that will reinvigorate one’s commitment to recovery.
Coping with Gambling Relapse
A gambling addiction relapse is not a failure verdict. It does not mean that treatment has failed, nor does it reflect a lack of willpower from the recovering person. Though undesirable, relapses are a common part of recovery. However, they can be very overwhelming for the one who is recovering and their loved ones.
If you slip back into your old habit, it’s not the end of your recovery journey, but a sure sign that it’s time to re-evaluate and change your strategy. The main goal should be to stop gambling as soon as possible.
It's important to note that a relapse should not be confused with a slip. A slip, also known as a lapse, is a single unplanned gambling incident, when a person has a very brief “slip” where they gamble, but instantly regrets the decision and stops immediately. A relapse is a return to gambling after a period of sobriety. If you have experienced a slip or a relapse, don't despair.
How to Stay On Track After Experiencing Gambling Addiction Relapse:
Acknowledge Your Relapse Triggers
If relapse occurs, focus on identifying high-risk triggers that may have caused the relapse. A relapse is often prompted by some form of environmental, emotional, or physical stimuli that will tempt you to gamble. Common gambling triggers include:
- The compulsive need to win
- Availability or lack of funds
- Desire for distraction
- Depression or anxiety
It is important to recognize and accept that gambling relapse triggers will never entirely disappear. You can protect your recovery journey by recognizing, avoiding, or coping with every possible circumstance, thought, emotion, or person that might trigger your urge to gamble again.
Procrastination is a good way of breaking a gambling problem. Delay the urge for instant gratification and give yourself an interval of an hour before making the decision. Often the waiting kills off the desire to gamble, it gets weaker enough for you to resist it or it will completely vanish, the longer you delay.
Invest in a New Hobby
Boredom is often the leading catalyst for increased gambling desires among gamblers. Redirect your focus and find new activities to keep yourself busy and distracted. Exploring new interests will add renewed enthusiasm to your life and help keep your mind off gambling. The Recover Strong program is just one of the programs focused on physical fitness to help keep gambling cravings at bay.
Master Coping Mechanisms
When you have identified your relapse triggers, explore and find ways to overcome and cope with the gambling urges. Define your coping mechanisms and practice regularly. Believe in yourself and know that you can do it.
A strong support system is essential when dealing with a relapse. Don’t isolate yourself. Instead, reach out to a trusted friend or be part of a support group meeting, especially when you're feeling the urge to gamble.
If you or a loved one are struggling with gambling addiction, and have yet to find a treatment program that sticks, Algamus could be the right fit for you. Algamus is a residential treatment program, specifically dedicated to treating gambling and the underlying triggers that come with it. For more information about our program, get in touch with our gambling counselors.