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This comment, “I will miss the entertainment …” on someone else’s thread, got me thinking.

My only experience of ending an addiction before gambling was caffeine. I knew I was drinking too much of it – 7 or 8 cups of black coffee a day – but I had no reason to stop. Until a visit to the doctor’s who diagnosed high blood pressure (from gambling?) and suggested I needed to cut down. Of course I knew better and thought I could just stop. Oh boy, was I wrong! Massive headaches, sleeplessness and just feeling so angry at the world. I went back to coffee.

A few months later and I decided to take the doctor’s advice – I did it her way. Slowly but surely I came down to my present consumption of just one cup per day.

Why is this relevant? Well I’m aware that when I (and others) talk about giving up gambling – it is the all or nothing scenario. Now we all know that “controlled gambling” doesn’t work for around 90% of those of us that try it. (I should know I have tried it many times) We are just not wired that way. But it seems to me what is missing is the “entertainment.” Is there a way of getting the payoff of the highs of winning without actually gambling? Maybe there is.

One of the many things I tried when stopping gambling was to become (in my own small way) an entrepreneur. It was very small because, (of course) I had no money to start-up with – but instead of slot arcades I started visiting charity shops, (thrift shops in the US.) I didn’t know much about anything, but I bought cheaply and tried to sell for good money on certain internet auction sites. I did this whilst I was still working full time – so I wasn’t risking a lot of money, but I did have some success. So much so that in a few years I was able to give up my stressful full-time job to sell books online full-time. I had my own business and some of the “entertainment” of gambling was redirected into my business. There was the highs and lows of buying and selling either at a profit or a loss, there was the “entertainment” of finding out more about the subject (the research of sport’s betting?) It gave structure to my life – I looked forwards to visiting a place to see what gems I might find there. It certainly kept my brain working and I could lose myself in it and not worry about other things. (OK so there were down-sides too!)

I never took things to another level – i.e. bought premises (I stored stock in my attic) or hired staff – but that would have been the way to go. I might have done so if I had been younger.

I was reminded of this by another gambler who did the same thing, only with old video games (a subject he knew something about) and he became quite successful with this as a side-hustle.

I also knew someone (without a gambling problem) who probably went for the cheapest “in” possible – by looking out for old postcards. This fulfilled her interest in history – and she “won the jackpot” when a card she bought in a job lot turned out to have been sent by one of the members of Scott’s expedition to the North Pole and was the last thing he ever wrote – it sold for thousands.

So the entertainment is out there … you just need to find it. What are you interested in? Could you make a cheap start in this field? Are you prepared to learn? Yes it is about taking chances – but in a more controlled way and could be the “doing things slowly” way of ending this addiction.

Food for thought? I would welcome comments.