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Strategies for staying Gamble Free

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Strategies for staying Gamble Free

Postby NewSunRising » Fri May 08, 2015 2:33 pm

I found a ton of good advice on this forum and I would like to pass on some of the methods that helped me get through the first few months of my recovery . I tried a lot of different things to battle my gambling urges - some worked , some didn't . I kept the ones that did and continued to search for new things to aid me in my fight .

These are some of the things what worked for me :

I put $100 dollars on a grocery store gift card that could not be redeemed for cash so I at least had food for the month . This took away a big chunk of stress - at least I didn't have to worry about how I was going to feed myself .

I cut up my credit cards . It was hard - my addiction fought me tooth and nail . When I finally did it I felt three things at once - panic , regret and relief .

I totaled up my debt - every penny - and looked at it every day . That was sobering and motivating .

I "paid" myself $1.00 at day for each day I didn't gamble . In the first weeks , that kept me going . I really looked forward to putting that dollar in the piggy bank every night when I got home .

I stopped referring to my gambling as "playing" . My addiction is to slot machines . The word "playing" implies something fun , innocent and harmless . What I was doing was none of those things - it was gambling , pure and simple .

I accepted that the money I lost was gone for good , there was no chance of winning it back and attempting to do so was only keeping me trapped in my addiction .

I accepted that I have a gambling addiction and I can never , ever gamble again , no matter what kind of lies my addiction told me .

I told a friend that I have a gambling addiction . This helped me tremendously . My secret was out - I was accountable now . I have a lifeline if I need it .

I "spent" almost all my money on payday by throwing every possible cent onto bills and debt as soon as it hit the bank . I filled my gas tank immediately . I left myself " almost broke " . I found it much easier to deal with the urges when I actually had no money . 4 months later , I am still doing this . I leave myself just enough to get to the next pay day and my debts are going down fast . In the meantime ...

I listened to a hypnosis tape every night for the first month . It calmed me down , enforced a positive message and helped me deal with my urges . There are dozens of these videos on the Internet . I tried them all until I found one that worked well for me . It is still my go-to when I have thoughts of gambling .

I posted here a lot . It was healing to unburden myself . I discovered more things that I wanted to say , and I gained a lot of strength and insight into myself by posting them .

The biggest thing for me was this - I made a battle plan . I wrote it all down and tried everything . I rewarded myself for the little victories . I set short term goals for myself and celebrated when I achieved them . One Day At A Time is not just a saying . It's a goal . It's doable .

I avoided everything related to gambling - I wouldn't even drive by a casino . I deleted every "play for free" site from my computer and replaced them with online jigsaw puzzles and solitaire games .

I spent the first few payday weekends barricaded in my apartment . I couldn't trust myself to go out and not gamble . I slept , I cleaned , I did movie marathons . I tried new recipes . I took walks around my neighborhood with NO money in my pocket and plugged into my hypnosis tape the instant I felt the urges come on .

Please share what worked for you . We all need every weapon we can get .
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Re: Strategies for staying Gamble Free

Postby buster1969 » Sat May 09, 2015 1:04 am

You continue to amaze me with your ideas. Putting money on a grocery store gift card is brilliant, I can't wait to go to GA next week and share it with the room.

BTW, we have seen a MASSIVE upswing in turnout at GA over the last month. We went from having 8-12 people per meeting to always being over 20. It's so therapeutic to hear people who are starting out because their stories really put the fear of God into me. I hope that we keep growing to the point that we have to split up into two rooms.
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Re: Strategies for staying Gamble Free

Postby NewSunRising » Sat May 09, 2015 3:03 am

Thank you Buster . I wanted to start this thread for all the newcomers here . When I first joined this forum , I was driven by one desperate thought :

Please God , someone tell me how to stop gambling .

The reasons why I gambled and story of the pain it has caused me were secondary . I needed solid advice and I needed it yesterday . What can I do today that will help me resist this relentless , vicious urge to gamble ?

Even one thing that stopped me for a minute , an hour or a day was a positive move forward towards what I thought was an unreachable goal . I can still remember the despair and helplessness that brought me here - that I would never have the strength to free myself because I didn't know what to do . Feeling so beaten down because I had tried and failed so many times .

There is so much wisdom here from all of you who have successfully taken back your lives . There is not just one way out of this Hell . I read every post on this forum to see what others were doing to fight their urges . I tried everything and slowly built up a box of tools to use , an arsenal of weapons against my addiction - things that worked.

I want to put it all in one place for everyone who is desperately searching for help and advice .

This is what you can do NOW .
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Re: Strategies for staying Gamble Free

Postby buster1969 » Sat May 09, 2015 2:50 pm

The big thing for me and the thing that made the biggest difference is that I self-excluded from all casinos in my state. I tried to quit hundreds of times but I never did anything differently. I now realize that I wasn't "serious" about quitting, I was just saying I was going to quit because it made me feel better until I got paid again. The rational part of my brain finally got through to me and I realized that quitting isn't just something you tell yourself to do, you actually have to physically do something and put the control into somebody else's hands. Once I did that I was able to relax because I knew that I couldn't gamble anymore. I also realized that even if I was to sneak into the casino and win they'd probably refuse to pay me because I wasn't allowed to be there.

Now when I see people at meetings or read postings on here from people who have excuses as to why they're not going to self-exclude ("I don't have to, I can beat it on my own" etc.) I realize that they are not "serious", they're doing what we all do and making themselves feel better at that moment.
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Re: Strategies for staying Gamble Free

Postby movingon2014 » Sun May 10, 2015 1:14 am

I've posted it a few times but I'm a firm believer in the practical side of the financial controls, combined with addressing the other issues I think is paramount for success. For me this means:

1. Cutting up the credit cards and working to close the accounts - Absolutely paramount in my opinion, this was the single biggest thing which kept me succeeding last year.
2. Limiting access to other cash - I opened a seperate transaction account. I cut up the debit card my pay goes into. The day I get paid I do the budget until the next pay - every dollar has a job (you can read from Dave Ramsey on this, or check out YNAB software) - then I only keep $200 or so in my other account at any one time to cover day to day expenses. If this is too complicated for you, suggest handing over access to another family member.
3. Goal setting - Have found this helps with getting over the past and reinvigorates me for the future. Also rewarding yourself as others have said. Maybe a nice little holiday when you hit 6 or 12 months gamble free.
4. Meditation, healthy diet and exercise - Helps with the physical and emotional side of it all. Also keeps your mind on other, more normal things. An idle mind is the devil's playground.
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Re: Strategies for staying Gamble Free

Postby It's never enough » Sun May 10, 2015 6:13 am

Thanks for these, these are all very good suggestions and action points.

One thing that has really worked well for me has been building a weekend routine. The weekends were previously when I caused myself most damage from gambling previously. When I was finally ready and serious about quitting (9 months ago and counting :D !) I realised that one of my major downfalls at the weekend was having absolutely no routine. Working a demanding Mon-Fri job kept me out of trouble through the week apart from a couple of times a month when I was staying away from home overnight and boredom would set in and I would cause myself serious financial harm playing online roulette.

So, in the early weeks of recovery I was very prescriptive with my time building in exercise regimes, reading time, socialising/family time, TV time etc. it was difficult at first but after a month or so I got used to it and now it's become my "normal" routine.

I honestly just have the time or the interest to throw away my money gambling any more. Perhaps this weekend plan/structure may work for others reading this.

All the best.
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Re: Strategies for staying Gamble Free

Postby NewSunRising » Mon May 11, 2015 11:48 am

That's a great insight INE .

I never really noticed before but there is definitely a lack of routine in my life . I can see the sense in having one , boredom has always been a huge trigger for me .

I have wanted to start finding some healthy activities for the weekends but I never gave any real thought to my " down time ". I'm going to try an hour of reading every night before bed .
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Re: Strategies for staying Gamble Free

Postby therecoveryman » Tue May 12, 2015 9:05 am

Many good advices here!
My best advice and "medicine" are to be honest to the people who are close to me.
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Re: Strategies for staying Gamble Free

Postby NewSunRising » Wed May 13, 2015 10:22 am

As soon as you tell someone , you're not alone anymore . I felt a huge weight leave me when I confessed my addiction to a close friend . Once I knew that somebody I care about was watching me and supporting me , I felt like I never want to let them down . That's a powerful motivation .

Writing things down here helped a lot , but an Internet forum can only do so much . We need support in real life . Gambling addiction keeps us isolated , it does not want to share us with anyone or anything . It wants to be our Number One Priority .

I had to make myself reconnect with people . I had to make myself go out to lunch or to a movie with friends when my brain was screaming at me to go and gamble . I am making myself my Number One Priority .
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Re: Strategies for staying Gamble Free

Postby NewSunRising » Thu May 14, 2015 1:03 am

Knowledge is power .

I am going to other gambling addiction forums and reading the member stories there . I have found several links to articles that gave me a better understanding of how my brain works in relation to addiction .

Two that really interested me were :
Happy rats don't get addicted .
The Voice of Reason ( Psychology Today ) .

An Internet search should find both of them .
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