21 June 2013 at 10:35 pm #7372adeleParticipant
I read this post on another site (GamCare).
I am not a Compulsive Gambler, but my husband is, and he is not yet in recovery.
I would be very interested to hear other’s opinions and experiences on this subject – CGs and F&Fs alike.
I hope it is helpful…
How to cope with urges.
For many individuals, the crucial problem is coping with urges. In order to cope well with them, it is usually necessary to understand them accurately, rather than in the distorted manner of many addicts. Some common distortions about urges are that urges are excruciating or unbearable, that they compel you to use or act, that they will drive you crazy if you do not use or act, and that they will not go away until you use or act. Some individuals are confused enough about their own thinking that they have a difficult time identifying distinct urges, and simply think of themselves as behaving a certain way "because I like to."
In actuality, urges can be uncomfortable but they are not unbearable unless you blow them out of proportion; they do not force you to do anything (there have probably been many instances where you had an urge but did not act), they have not driven you crazy yet (and will not), each urge will go away if you simply wait long enough, and there are periods between urges which become increasingly longer if you stop.
Although during the initial days or weeks of abstinence or moderation, especially after a long period of daily addictive behavior, you may experience many urges of strong and even increasing intensity. Recovering addicts of all types report that urges eventually peak in frequency, intensity, and duration, and then gradually, with occasional flare-ups, fade away. How long it will take for urges to peak, and how rapidly they will subside, depends on many factors, including the specific addiction, the length of the addiction, how successful the program of abstinence or moderation has been, and the strength of the developing alternative lifestyle. However, as a very broad guideline, within six months to one year most addicts will report only feeble urges (for instance, one a week, lasting a few minutes, a 1 or 2 on a 10 point scale).
It is also crucial not to take responsibility for the occurrence of the urge, but only your response to it. It is normal for any addict to experience urges, and just because on Sunday you decide to stop does not mean that on Monday you will not have urges. The fact that urges occur does not indicate that your motivation is weak, but that your addiction is strong. Because all habits have unconscious components, of which the urge is one, it will take time for these to die away. What is within your control, however, is how you respond to the urge. An analogy could be made to someone knocking at your front door. All sorts of individuals might knock at your door, but it is up to you to decide with whom you will talk. Their knocking is not your responsibility, but to what extent you choose to speak with them is.
Specific techniques for coping with urges include the followin:.
When an urge occurs, accept it, but keep it at a distance. Experience it as you would a passing thought, one which "comes in one ear and out the other". Detach yourself from it, and observe and study it as an outside object for a moment. Then return your attention to what you were previously doing. If the urge is intense, remember (and perhaps picture) your benefits of stopping/cutting back (which can be carried in your wallet or purse). Recall a "moment of clarity", a moment when changing your addictive behavior seemed almost without question the right course of action. Think your addictive behavior through to the end:
When an urge is present, you tend to think only of the Benefits of the Addiction, but completing the image to include the negative consequences that follow will give you a more accurate view of the whole scenario. If the urge is very intense, engage yourself in a distracting activity, one which you have enjoyed before and which will take your mind off the urge, or use a specific distraction technique, such as counting things (e.g., leaves on a plant, books on a shelf), doing arithmetic (e.g., continually subtracting 7 from 1000, 993, 986, etc.), or focusing on alphabetical/verbal games (e.g., saying the alphabet backwards, reading signs backwards, searching book titles or license plates for the alphabet, etc.). Any simple activity conducted at high speed can fill up your attention, thereby allowing no attention for the urge. Any thought or activity on which you completely focus your attention is all that is needed, because if no attention is paid to the urge, then it will no longer exist. Although another urge may come along at any point, that urge also can be dealt with in a similar fashion. Over time the urges come less frequently, as already stated.
To summarize these urge coping techniques, all urges should be accepted. Low level urges can be observed but kept at a distance. Attention can then be re-directed to whatever one was paying attention to prior to the urge. More intense urges can be "counter argued" by reviewing in some fashion the benefits of not engaging in the addictive behavior, and the facts about urges mentioned above (e.g., all urges go away eventually; they are uncomfortable but not unbearable unless I blow them out of proportion;). Very intense urges can be dealt with using some form of distraction, repeated as necessary. All urges eventually go away.8 July 2013 at 4:51 am #7373pony express 1960Participant
THis is something i have xperienced and found to be true. THe urges come and they do go away. Holding out long enough untill it passes is sometimes the problem. Getting locked into that thought and trying to break that train of thought is sometimes the problemSteven D Mastro12 July 2013 at 2:39 pm #7374adeleParticipant
Pony – do you think the techniques described here would be helpful? I have asked my husband (CG) to read this and consider implementing them when he begins to feel the urge to gamble – don’t know if he has read it or not though. I would like to be able to tell him that other CG’s have found this helpful.
Thanks for contributing to this topic.
Adele"… should I give up or should I just keep trying to run after you when there's nothing there?" Adele12 July 2013 at 4:20 pm #7375charlesModerator
Hi, if anyone else finds this subjectuseful then maybe join me in the Topic group which starts in approx 1 hour and 40 minutes. The Topic being discussed will be "Fighting the urges"10 September 2013 at 3:13 pm #7376darksideParticipant
Thanks for posting this, i am new to this site so am only seeing it now.
I think it could be helpful using some of these techniques to fight the urges.23 January 2014 at 4:40 pm #7377icanbeatthisParticipant
Thanks for posting this. I have never successfully beaten any urges before and they are very strong urges. One time I tried to distract myself by going for a run. I just could not stop thinking about gambling while running and had to cut short my run so I could get back to gambling. I’d like to try your techniques to see if it works. Will keep you posted.21 February 2014 at 3:32 am #7378scorpio42Participant
Hey, I know it has been a while since this has beeen posted but I just joined today to get as much help as I can to stop giving in to the urges and that is a great tool to use and I am going to do it every time it happens. I suppose I never tried to wait and not give in but enough is enough and I am going to do it and not give in
Thanks13 June 2014 at 5:52 pm #7379Paul808Participant
This post hits the nail on the head. Urges are truly the root of all addiction and it is only through the mastering of these compulsions can recovery take form. This I know through experience, unfortunately. Such a powerful piece.13 June 2014 at 6:22 pm #7380
I am new to the site but found the gamcare piece both interesting and useful. The truth is that my urges build up day by day and are probably not overly powerful in their selves – i.e. the compulsion to gamble doesn’t manifest itself immediately making me want to get into action straight away. Instead, I start to plan my next gambling spree and perhaps for me that is all part and parcel of my addiction – I get away from sitting with my feelings long before I make that first bet. My addict is on my shoulder all day long but I’m going to try and use the tools suggested to see if I can break the pattern & stop my addictive behaviour at a much earlier stage by not entertaining the seemingly ‘exciting’ thoughts of planning my next break out.16 June 2014 at 2:18 pm #7381DuncKeymaster
Welcome back Scorpio,
A fabulous post with so much positivity. maybe a great place to start is with your own thread here within My Journal.
H16 June 2014 at 2:21 pm #7382DuncKeymaster
Im glad you took something from this thread. Maybe a thread of your own will allow members to support you and allow others members to gain from your experience
H18 June 2014 at 10:08 am #7383
I just wanted to thank you for connecting with me – it means a great deal at this stage of my recovery. I am still navigating the site but I will certainly take your advice and look at ‘My Journal’. I am feeling very positive about having this fantastic link to converse with other compulsive gamblers who have a long period of abstinence and I am determined to make good use of it. Your response is very important to me in that it shows there really are people ‘out there’ who want nothing more of me than for me to be well – thank you.18 June 2014 at 10:22 am #7384
Having re-read your post, I realise it was not actually directed at me – sorry.19 June 2014 at 7:28 pm #7385charlesModerator
Good realisation Epicurean,
It’s all part of the addiction – not just the act of gambling but also the planning of bets, the scheming to get money, the buzz, the risk etc etc
Start that thread in the My Journal Froum, you can get a lot of feedback and support there, tell us a little more about your own gambling and situation.23 June 2014 at 9:58 pm #7386
Many thanks for the advice – I’m going to try and get a journal started. I’ve just had a minor oral operation and still feeling a bit woozy but I’ve gambled in far worst states, so going to do my best to avoid excuses when it comes to my recovery.
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