Managing Gambling Addiction Relapses

Apr 12, 2024

A gambling addiction relapse may make you feel anxious, irritated, or hopeless. Know that gambling relapses are common. According to recent data, 90% of gambling addicts relapse. Not every gambling addict will relapse, but it can still happen. 

Gambling addiction comes with ups and downs. It affects each individual differently. It’s not only stressful for the individual, but also for their partner and loved ones. That doesn’t mean that life is hopeless and recovery isn’t possible.

If you or someone you know had a gambling relapse, the first step is to get support for you and the individual. Let them know that you will support them no matter what. Inform them that recovery is possible after relapse. 

They should also care for themselves since they might experience guilt or shame. Self-care strategies include avoiding alcohol and drugs, eating healthy and exercising, and getting plenty of rest. 

Strategies for Coping with a Gambling Relapse

Counseling is one way to cope with a gambling release. A mental health counselor will work with you to manage your feelings of anger, fear, guilt, resentment, and shame. In the first session, they will learn about your specific disorder. 

Counselors have experience and training in understanding how gambling addictions manifest in different people. They can support you and the individual who has relapsed. You’ll get the tools you need to tackle relapses and prevent them. 

Some counselors work with couples and families. Restoring trust in relationships is integral to healing and takes work. 

Both types of counseling offer a safe space in which all individuals express their feelings, reconnect with the addict, and restore trust in the relationship. Therapy repairs bonds among couples and loved ones. 

Preventing a Gambling Addiction Relapse: Helpful Tips

The best way to prevent a relapse is to recognize every trigger that causes you to gamble. One method is called gambling procrastination, in which you wait an hour to make a decision. Putting off the decision kills the desire to gamble.

Your cravings will die off the longer you wait. Replace gambling with healthier hobbies that keep you distracted. Invest in a new hobby such as reading, starting an online course, or going to the gym.

Another way to master your coping mechanisms. You’ll explore your emotions, feelings, and triggers. You’ll learn how to manage your gambling urges to prevent relapse. 

Mastering your coping mechanisms is a daily skill that needs to be strengthened. It’s like a muscle. It gets easier if you have the desire and motivation to quit. 

Identifying Precursors to Relapse

According to a study in Environmental Research and Public Health, numerous factors contribute to a relapse. Two common factors are high stress and inadequate lifestyle conditions. Relapse also contributes to cognitive, emotional, and mental health factors. 

Male gambling addicts are more likely to relapse when they need money. Meanwhile, female gambling addicts relapse when they experience stress or difficult emotions. 

Other risk factors like a lower socioeconomic status can have a greater risk for financial problems because they gamble more of their income than those in a higher income bracket. 

Studies have also shown that Black and Hispanic individuals are more prone to relapse since gambling is acceptable in certain communities and cultures. Similarly, those with limited behavioral health resources are more likely to relapse. 

Several studies also found that those with alcohol or substance abuse issues are at higher risk of gambling relapse. Although no research supports gambling relapses and relationship status, the lack of support from a partner or a loved one can cause one to relapse. 

Recognizing Your Triggers

Your gambling addiction will go through remissions. Remission occurs when you can control or abstain from gambling. You’ll find that it’s easier to manage when life is good. You may notice that your gambling is severe at certain times. 

It worsens when you worry about financial problems or personal stresses. Use a gambling diary to reflect on your thoughts and emotions. It can help you identify any risks or triggers that lead to a relapse. 

This cultivates greater self-awareness of your addiction. You might notice times when you’re successful at overcoming urges. This can help you determine an action plan for effective treatment. 

You should commit to this activity once a day or once a week. With regular practice, you’ll learn more about your gambling addiction and notice any patterns. This can help you prepare for relapses and respond to new attacks. 

Engaging in New Activities

Engaging in new activities makes for a good distraction. This would be a good time to learn a new hobby or interest. You can also revisit the activities you enjoyed when you were young. 

Also, finding a sport or exercise such as yoga, tennis, pickleball, or bowling can help. If you can, join your local community center. Most have free or affordable activities, dance classes, and exercise sessions. 

Finding new activities you love is about trial and love. The goal is to choose one mental activity, one physical activity, and one miscellaneous activity that brings you joy. For example, you might find that hiking, baking, and volunteering bring you joy and meaning.

Also, you should join a support group such as Gambler’s Help or Gamblers Anonymous. If you or someone you know has a gambling addiction, take our 100% free and private assessment to get started on your journey. 

Resources:

Relapse - Substance Use v Gambling

The ‘Merry-Go-Round’ of Habitual Relapse: A Qualitative Study of Relapse in Electronic Gaming Machine Problem Gambling

Evaluating for Differences by Race/Ethnicity in the Association Between Income and Gambling Disorder

Poverty Rates for Blacks and Hispanics Reached Historic Lows in 2019

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