In gambling terms, a relapse is the term used to describe a return to gambling, despite having made a decision to stop.
The majority of problem gamblers who make a commitment to stop gambling will experience one or more relapses – especially at the start of the journey. Whilst relapses can feel like a considerable setback – the reality is that each one offers important information and allows us to continue to move forwards.
Although there will most likely be some negative thoughts and feelings after a relapse – it is important to find perspective and to take the opportunity to learn from it.
What led up to the relapse?
It will help to run through the days, hours and minutes that led to the relapse and see where there may be gaps appearing in your strategy to quit.
What doors are still open?
When you are thinking about the relapse – be honest with yourself about any doors that you have left open for yourself. These open doors might be things such as extra money that you know is unaccounted for, a new friend that you know is a gambler or a website from which you haven’t yet self-excluded.
What are you triggers?
The word trigger describes things that can lead towards thinking about gambling – and which may then contribute to a relapse. Common external triggers might include gambling adverts on TV, emails from gambling companies or betting logos on sports kits. Knowing that these things may affect you will allow you to make a conscious decision about how to respond when you are faced with them.
How am I looking after my mental health?
A gambling problem is often the symptom of other life difficulties such as stress, anxiety, depression or boredom. Alongside your commitment to stop gambling – taking care of the underlying reasons that gambling became problematic is also important. Speaking to someone close to you, or to a counsellor can help you to work through a relapse – giving you new ways to respond to difficult feelings and emotions.
Talk to one of our advisors about relapse using our text-based chat service.