Posts tagged addiction recovery
The most necessary (but most resisted) step all addicted gamblers must take...

One of the issues about behavioural addictions is that they are often taken less seriously than drug and alcohol addictions. Not least from a position of stigma – where behavioural addictions sometimes get equated to ‘a lack of willpower’ and ‘weak character’ etc, but I find that even the client him/herself is not always showing adequate respect for their addiction. This shows up as reluctance or in some cases flat out unwillingness to do the important work on blocking the access to the gambling.  As long as you are keen to put a definite end to the gambling, but find yourself still not focusing on creating these barriers – then you are operating as if the gambling is still under voluntary control at all times.

Remember- At this point it should begin to get obvious for you that this is not the case. You would not be visiting this blog otherwise.

For a more in-depth discussion around breaking out of denial and living in reality you can read my previous blog post on this topic here.  This present article is merely going to focus on the FIRST & ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY STEP that any gambler should take ASAP if they are serious about quitting:

Block/reduce your access to money.  Yes, this is correct. No ifs, no buts. This NEEDS to happen. 

Having worked with countless gamblers in treatment over the last 15 years, I am aware of what thoughts and resistances comes up when this suggestion is made. For many this is an already obvious step, but still one that has not been taken.  In fact, there is no one strategy that I suggest as a clinician that is met with more resistance than this one.

Some of the common resistances are..

I should be able to recovery anyway  (without blocking access to anything) – what’s the point if I have to live like a kid again anyway…’

‘if I am not gambling simply because I cannot get to my money it is not really recovery – then I am just forced to avoid it…so then there is no point’

‘no way can I live like this long term anyway’

‘but what if I had an emergency’

‘what kind of a man/woman would I be if I don’t have access to my own money…’



In my previous posts I have gone into depth in analysing these distortions. This can be worthwhile doing as time goes by. But for now, let’s just use a few simple facts as evidence for why this step needs to happen irrespective of how reluctant you currently feel: 

a)      Check your own track record with money – i.e,, the facts of your gambling history. When did you ever NOT gamble when you had open access to money. Even if you were able to hang on to it for a day or so, if you still ended up gambling with it sooner or later, that is sufficient evidence to suggest that you will feel that way inclined again, given the same cirucumstances presenting.  That’s why we don’t want to take that risk again.

b)      If this was any other addiction – let’s say to a drug- would you think it was possible to walk around with the drug in your pocket and yet be expected not slip up?   Money and a venue are the means required for you to fulfil your addiction. You need to at least disrupt your access to one of them!   Remember your addiction as such does not care whether it is addicted to drugs or gambling; what I mean by that is that just because money is something that we also need in our daily life in a different way than we need say drugs- the addiction itself does not take this into consideration. Addiction is addiction in this respect.  Please mind that it does not mean you have to live as a limited adult- there are loads of clever ways of not having direct access to your money but still be able to enjoy a rich lifestyle. You just need to problem solve this very well depending on your individual situation.

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3 steps to help you reach your goals..

New year’s is a time when many people make commitments to themselves and others. Many of those commitments involve breaking bad habits and/or increasing good habits.  This very much applies to peoples struggling with addictions and towards the end of a year many of the addicted people I see in therapy have grand plans about what changes to put in place come the new year.

For any person, addicted or not, the start of a new year can be very inspiring; not least if you sit down and look forward to great projects, trips, ideas or goals and achievements that you are hoping will lie ahead. Just as it can be inspirational it can also be daunting, and again, not least for people with addictions or mental health problems whom might be looking back over the year that has passed with regrets and ruminations, wondering if they can really trust themselves to make those changes, they need in the next year, any more than they did in the one just passed. 

Commitment is a BIG thing and a key part of leading a life that we value and enjoy.  Take a moment and think about the biggest things you have achieved in your life – if you look at what lead you to keep going all the way to the goal line ( if the nature of the commitment has a goal line which is not always the case) you will realise that it was a strong commitment  to stick with the process even when things do not feel great.  The thing to understand here is that we cannot listen to our feelings to decide the level of commitment on any given day. A commitment needs to be made based on entirely different basis – in brief – a basis that align well with our value system and as such can be identified as something that will make us proud of the person we are inside.

For some people, committing themselves equals a huge step out of the comfort zone.  Because it means giving yourself a promise to stick with something. Something that most of us know will be easy some days but really hard other days.  With that we take a risk when we make commitments; we risk letting other people down and by doing so also letting ourselves down.  There’s  no wonder many people I see in recovery are frightened of even making any to begin with!  Unfortunately- without taking that risk; our lives will come to a bit of a standstill. Nothing materialises. No goals get met. We stop growing and developing. And a sense of void and emptiness easily sets in.   Even if we DO get around to make those commitments; the race isn’t over. We now have to stick with them. This is something that the vast majority of human beings struggle with in one way or another. The New year is a particularly common time period for people to get excited about making promises, lay out the plans, make commitments, tell the world about them ...and we all know what often happens a few weeks in.   That diet that never lasted. Or that new gym membership with accompanying outfit that never got used beyond the point of February. Or the addiction that picked up again once the high of early abstinence had settled down.  

So how do we get better at sticking with commitments?

Here are 3 important steps that you can take right now to make the job a little easier:

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