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A gambling addiction relapse is not a failure verdict. It does not mean that treatment has failed, nor does it reflect lack of will power from the recovering person. Rather, 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 ones’ commitment to recovery.

Though undesirable relapses are a common part of recovery and they can be overwhelming for the one who is recovering and their loved ones. Don’t despair. 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.

A relapse should not be confused with a slip. A slip, is 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 stop immediately. A relapse is a return to gambling after a period of sobriety.

How to Stay On Track After Experiencing Gambling Addiction Relapse:


Acknowledge That Relapse Triggers Are Unavoidable

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 triggers your urge to gamble again.

Identify the 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 boredom, compulsive need to win, availability or lack of funds and desire for distraction amongst other things.

Procrastinate Gambling

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.

Understanding gambling withdrawal

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.

Get Support

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.

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.


Topics: Gambling Addiction, Recovery

Rick Benson

Written by Rick Benson

Rick founded Algamus Recovery Centers in 1992. A Cornell University graduate, Rick is an Internationally Certified Gambling Counselor (ICGC-II) and a Canadian Problem Gambling Counselor (CPGC). Algamus and Rick were featured on the very first episode of Intervention on the A&E channel.