A Recovery Strategy that has Kept me Gambling Free for 25 Years.
I haven’t made it this far by accident or by luck. I have a recovery strategy – a daily plan – which is listed below.
But be warned – miss ones out and you DRAMATICALLY increase your chances of slipping back your old ways.
I’ve personally helped a LOT of gamblers like me over the years, and can tell you that each one of the points below is absolutely NECESSARY to succeed. There are no shortcuts to addressing a full blown addiction as your brain is literally HARD-WIRED to gamble through the thousands of hours of behavioural programming you have subjected it to, burned in with high levels of adrenaline.
Read that again – you may want a quick fix, a magic wand to take away your problem… but you are going to have to put in the work over a number of months/years.
Time to be be honest and stop kidding yourself. Sort this properly once and for all.
TAKING IT ONE DAY AT A TIME
Climbers don’t look look down. They focus 90% of their attention on where their hands and feet are, so they don’t fall off. The other 10% is where the next hold is. Inch by inch they climb a mountain.
It’s been the same for me with the gambling. I don’t look back and count the days, but focus purely on staying off gambling one day at a time.
Actually to start with it was an HOUR at a time, as my brain was so fried through gambling. But it’s been 25 years since my last bet, and I now have a life.
You can read my story here but right now let’s focus purely on what I’ve done and still try to do each day to ensure my continued recovery.
[ Over the last 25 years I have listened to and tried to help probably around 1,000-2,000 gamblers. In that time I’ve seen people go 10+ years without a bet, then go back to it because they thought the things below were a waste of time or didn’t apply to them. Even people that have been convicted of theft and served time. ]
- ACCESS – A gambler needs money, or access to money, in order to gamble. So the sooner you are cut off from it the better. You know that if you have it you’ll only gamble until your last pound is gone, so give it to someone else to hold onto for you (husband, wife, mother, father, aunt, friend, etc). It’s not even money to us – it’s spins/credits/chips, tokens, etc. Have your wages/benefits/rent paid direct into their account.
- CARDS – Hand over your cards – ALL of them. Make sure all the statements are delivered to your home address.
- CASH – Only carry the exact cash you need for that day, and get receipts for everything you spend and give them back to your appointed “Bank Manager”.
- FOOD & FUEL – Ask your helper to help fill up with fuel, stock up food, etc on a weekly basis so you know you have basics covered and don’t have to handle the money.
Print this off and give it to your helper. And do NOT give this person a hard time – you need their help, so don’t blow it. You might feel like a child, but don’t act like one!
AND DON’T CHANGE YOUR PLAN – After a couple of months of this system working, I guarantee you will want control of your money back – DON’T. Never change a winning formula, its not worth the risk. It’s the Gambler in you that is telling you that the danger is over and you can go back to it. But don’t change a thing, trust me.
[ No doubt the Gambler within you is already kicking off, telling you that this is unneccessary or embarrassing – this should prove to you how sick you are! READ ON ]
- COME CLEAN – Tell your family/other half about your debts – ALL of them – so that they can help you pay these people back. There may be a debt that you feel you can’t tell them yet. But you have to tell them now or it will be much worse later. Make offers to pay a bit a month – even £10 – no more sticking your head in the sand.
- PAY OFF THE DEBTS – It’s important that you pay the debts over the longest term possible, as it’s a lasting reminder of the consequences of your actions. Ask them to freeze the interest, and go for 5 or 10 years repayment terms. But repay you will, and it will help fend off your next bet. By all means prioritise the high interest credit cards etc to get paid first, no point in wasting money.
- KEEP BUSY – Fill your time (especially your morning) with small, productive tasks. If you’ve got a gambling problem there’s a TON of stuff you’ve been neglecting: your personal appearance and health, the house and garden, your work, relationship, friends, etc.
- GET OUT – Get fresh air. Take exercise. Find pleasure in normal things again. Rediscover old hobbies.
- RECONNECT – Spend as much time in the company of others. Don’t be a loner, mulling over your mistakes. Thinking about what you’ve lost will take you straight back there. Your gambling addiction has isolated you, and part of your recovery is to reconnect with others.
#4. DAILY PROGRAM
- HAVE A PROGRAM – It helps to have an Hour-by-Hour daily program. Write this plan the night before and carry it around in your back pocket. Don’t just wing it and let the day happen to you – or within a few days or weeks you’ll end up gambling again, guaranteed, because your programming will kick in. Willpower is not enough.
- TO-DO LIST – Stay on track by crossing things off the list as they’re done, or later that night when you are doing your next list.
- PLAN CASH – Work out exactly how much money you’ll need for that day, and plan for it. Get receipts for every penny you spend and give them back to your helper.
#5. GAMBLING THERAPY / SAFEGUARDS
- GA / THERAPY – Attend a GA meeting or counselling session at least once a week without fail. I was 2 years clear before I skipped a week. You cannot overcome a full blown addiction without talking. FACT – Anyone that says that they are not ready to talk yet, is really saying that they are not ready to start getting better. If you’ve already tried a particular meeting or counsellor then try another one, there’s plenty out there.
- EXCLUDE YOURSELF – Ban yourself & self-exclude yourself from everywhere, even establishments you’ve never been to and from types of gambling that you’ve never done. Like an alcoholic, you’ll drink anything where supply is scarce. DON’T GO IN ON YOUR OWN – take someone with you or do it by post.
- DO NOT TALK ABT GAMBLING – Distance yourself from gambling acquaintances. Tell them you have a problem, and delete their number from yr phone. They won’t miss you, as they’re not true friends.
- AVOID GAMBLING ENVIRONMENT – Don’t go in or near gambling establishments. Walk on the other side of the street. Take a different route.
- AVOID ADS – The moment gambling comes on the TV walk out of the room or change channel.
- INSTALL BLOCKING SOFTWARE – Have someone install gambling block software onto your phone and all PC/tablets, and only they must have the passwords so only THEY can change or uninstall it.
Trust me, the above works and has kept me safe for 25 years.
Make these things a habit, to replace the old ones.
Do them every day without fail every day and they’ll keep you safe for the next 25 hours, 25 days, maybe 25 months – maybe even 25 years like it has for me. The problems that seem massive & unsolvable will get sorted. Your sanity WILL return.
What can you do with that time? Build a life. Be free. Become the person you are capable of being and were meant to become. Fulfil your potential.
Lastly…. As they say Take It One Day At A Time
Do not try to address your whole life problem at once.
Focus your messed up mind on doing it one day at a time.
Read that again. The gambler in you wants all your problems sorted instantly with a magic wand. But you need to focus on getting through today only without a bet.
Stay away from the FIRST bet and the SECOND won’t happen (and the damage that goes with it).
Accept that these early days will be hard and unpleasant – it’s like coming off heroin – but it is possible.
You are not alone. Tens of thousands do it each day, taking it one day at a time, sticking to a recovery strategy like this.
No more excuses – print this, carry it with you.
Eat, sleep & breath it and things will change faster than you could ever imagine.