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.Read More