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    This was a discussion we had in one of the groups this evening.


    We all know the obvious barriers that can make it harder for us to place a bet; things like tying up the finances, self exclusion etc  What about things we can do in an emergency?  When the urges really strike or a temptation appears from no where?  What tactics can we have up our sleeves to prevent or delay our gambling?  I include delay because obviously any delay gives us more thinking time, more time for the urge to wear off.


    I want a lot of ideas here please, what has worked for you in the past?   What ideas have you heard in the past?


    I will start us off.  If you are really tempted at say a weekend then mail your ATM card to yourself.  You will get it back on Monday and the urges wil likely have worn off or you will be busy at work.


    Bake a cake. Put it in the oven and WAIT… the time the cake is cooked, hopefully the smell of the fresh baking will have overtaken the urge to gamble.
    This has worked for me in the past!


    Sherry shared the following “tactic” here in the past….put your money/cards in the freezer ( wrapped in foil I would guess)

    I never tried this but it worked for Sherry!


    Hi Guys

    I’d like to add a little bit here about barriers. So far it’s been about ways of temporarily removing access to cards. (I might add the cabbage patch idea later)

    When I went into rehab 7 years ago everything I owned, money, cards, mobile phones, all forms of identification was removed…. Shock Horror.

    I wanted recovery, I wanted my life back so I gave in and handed in my money, cards, mobile phones, all forms of identification to the staff. With the exception of 1 thing… a £1 coin.

    You’d think that keeping a £1 ($1.6) coin back was innocuous. That £1 coin without doubt slowed my recovery process down. Every day instead of trying to communicate with the other residents, instead of trying to open up and be honest I was scheming how I could use that £1 to make a few pounds.
    We all talk about gambling as in the physical act, but mind gambling, planning, scheming, lying are all parts of the gamblers psyche and whilst I had handed over nearly everything over I had, I had left a tiny door open to the gambling world allowing my thoughts to be consumed by gambling, the urges where unbearable… recovery I thought was high on my list of priorities but the truth is that one small door left open could have unhinged my whole recovery it may as well have been a big hole.

    Barriers work in multiple ways. One is obvious it physically stops us from gambling, It also reduces urges, Reduces the thoughts of gambling which helps us sleep, it helps clear the chaos in our mind to allow the logical thoughts to permutate through and recovery stands a much greater chance.

    I’ll be honest, I never did tell my support worker although she may read this an sigh… A guy I had been living with for few days spotted me playing with it, we talked about life, what I wanted, what I was prepared to sacrifice and made me look at that innocuous £1…. It wasn’t so innocuous after all.

    We walked over to the shop and put the £1 in a charity box, the one time in my life id put money in a slot knowing that there was no chance of a financial return (there hadn’t been for 20 years but at that point I hadn’t accepted that), the feeling was amazing, exonerating and the beginning of my recovery. One seeming irrelevant decision may have resulted in my outcome being totally different.

    Barriers are a form of abstinence, please think when you’re looking at barriers and how they may work… have I done enough, will what I haven’t done allow my brain to mind gamble?

    Take Care



    Those are good emergency barriers Vera, thanks for sharing. I like the baking a cake one, we cant leave the house if it means burning whatever is in the oven!! The added bonus of course would be if we have really powerful urges we might get TWO cakes! 😉


    Very true Harry!
    Mind gambling, i e plotting , planning, dreaming and scheming causes as much, if not more anxiety than the real thing. Having NO opportunity to gamble is the only road to freedom. Every other route is for losers!


    One thing I have tried. I take the gambling money to a shop, and buy something I need, say paper towels… but I buy a ridiculous amount. Like fill the entire car with paper towels. I have discovered a few things. I spend considerably less money than what the casino will take from me. I find it hilarious to think of wagering all of those paper towels instead of monetary wagers of the same exact value. It makes my gambling look just as equally ridiculous to me and sometimes I even laugh out loud. There is far less harm involved in a car full of towels or soap… you WILL eventually use it. Oh…tell the neighbors you caught a sale, they will either think you’re a genius or an idiot… but at least they will not think that you’re a degenerate gambler.


    Hi all
    I thought i would share what helps me when i get urges.

    I send out a group text to my GA friends as soon as i have an urge. That way i know that i am likely to get a reply as its sent to a few people and it gets my “secret” out in the open.

    I also use delaying for half hour at a time when its bad, put on a movie, start cleaning something, talking to someone, chatting, reading, writing, eating something delicious, walk, anything really to not focus on that urge as its when i focus on it that it grows in strength.
    I say i will wait half an hour, then i keep doing that.

    Just sharing what helps me sometimes



    Thanks for posting that P. I really like the group text idea. Whether someone did that with friends at GA or alternatively with trusted friends or family members it’s a great idea. By texting a few people at once it’s likely that at least one of them is free to ring you back. Even if they can’t then they are bound to ask you about it later. That one text makes you instantly accountable for what you do next – a great idea and a great deterrent, thanks for sharing it.


    I have a friend at the meetings . If he gets an urge he will take his bank cards and put them in the mail. In a couple days they come back to his house after he calms down.


    A good idea Ed, I know people who do that as well. Or, if they are a weekend gambler, they might leave their credit cards in their office at work. They can pick them up on Monday when they are too busy to gamble.


    Where i work SAFETY comes before anything else. We are taught before we do any job O.M.R.A. That is we do a One Minute Risk Assessment and also S.T.A.R. Stop Think Act Review before we do any job. I am using these mind skills when i get urges to gamble.


    Good one Micky. especially S.T.A.R.
    …… Review : How do I feel when I have lost ? then the brain starts to think “what if I win ?” and before we know it we picture ourselves sipping champagne by the beach. So then rewind back to “Stop” and “Think” – repeat the process if need be until the reality sinks in that we can never win and the urge passes.


    What has really worked for me in the past is phoning a member in gamblers anonymous. I once had an very bad urge to gamble on the way home from visiting my father. I go by the exit you take to get to casino. I had not yet banned myself. I talked with a very good friend for about 20 minutes and then went on my way to home. The very next time I saw that friend he helped me get banning papers signed and notarized and sent. So would definitely say that making that phone call really helped me.


    One time.. i had few clothes that fitted me due to weight gain.. i had urges to gamble. I put all of my clothes in the wash and put on pyjamas.. i washed about 3 loads of washing and left it all sitting there wet in the basket so i had no chance of going out anywhere as i had no clothes to wear!!!


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