Gambling Therapy logo

How do I stop the urge to gamble?

Experiencing and enduring urges to gamble is usually part of the process of quitting. Urges will come and go – and there will likely be times when they are hard to ignore. If you anticipate these urges and have a response already prepared you can work through them.

Each time you choose not to gamble you are reducing the power of the urges.

A good strategy for quitting gambling includes building more meaningful, honest connections with those around you. In the short term – it is also helpful to consider tools such as blocking software, self-exclusion, asking for support to manage your finances and joining a regular group.

Be prepared

Most problem gamblers will still continue to feel urges to gamble again – even if there is a strong commitment to stop. Be as prepared as you can for this by thinking through what your response will be to an urge.

Talk to someone

Speaking to someone about your urge to gamble can help you to put it in perspective. Naming it is important, and being honest with yourself about the feeling is important. You may choose to speak to a close friend, a counsellor, an online support service or it may just help to write down your thoughts and feelings.

Distract yourself

This is as simple as it sounds. Choosing to do something completely different for a while can take the edge off the urge to gamble. Having a few things ready can be helpful – so take some time to think about the things you enjoy doing and could turn to if you find you are caught up in an urge to gamble.

Get to the root of the urge

It may seem that an urge to gamble has come out of nowhere – but that’s unlikely to be the case. Think about what is going on in your life that may have led up to the urge. Are you stressed with work, with relationships or money? Find a way to explore this with someone close to you.

Take each day as it comes

Some days will be easier than others… that’s completely normal. Just because you experience more urges to gamble one day doesn’t mean you’re going downhill. If you get through this urge without gambling – that’s an achievement.

Each time you choose a different path in response to an urge you are removing its power. Simple pleasures such as connection with others, with nature or enjoying other activities will begin to have more meaning and gambling urges will feel less demanding.