Celebrate your achievements
Let’s take a look at what you’ve achieved so far!
If you have been reading the self-help sections in sequence and acting on the tools and information provided, you will have:
- A better understanding of your gambling behaviour.
- Identified your reasons for stopping or cutting down on gambling.
- Proved to yourself that you can deal with high-risk situations and control your gambling.
- Enlisted the support of someone who cares about you.
- Started making connections with people in your life and have been trying out new activities and experiences that are important to you.
All in all, you have taken some really important steps and you have a lot to feel good about. Now is the time for you to develop your skills to manage your gambling long term.
Undoing a gambling habit that has developed over a length of time is not necessarily straightforward. It takes time and effort. People who are trying to give up or cut back on their gambling often find themselves in situations where they have placed a bet or exceeded their limits by playing too long or spending too much ( a ‘lapse’).
It is easy to feel guilty, feel you lack willpower or feel like a failure and that you might as well go back to your old gambling patterns. This is normal and not a problem unless you allow these thoughts and feelings to take over and crowd out everything you have worked hard to achieve so far.
So, don’t give up!
You can manage any setbacks by developing:
- A different mindset about the experience, so that it becomes part of your learning process.
- A different way of responding so that you are less likely to do this in the future.
See some helpful examples below.
1. Avoid labelling yourself as a failure
Instead, see the lapse as an opportunity to learn from your mistake.
2. Strengthen your commitment
It’s normal for your motivation to go up and down. When you feel less inclined to pursue your goal, try the following:
- Remember your reasons why: Go over your reasons for giving up or cutting down on gambling and the benefits you will gain in the short and long term. Ask yourself, is it worth giving up on these over a temporary setback?
- Give yourself a ‘Pep Talk’: You know one part of you wants to succeed in cutting down or stopping gambling; the other part wants to give up. Which side is going to win? Remember that you are changing your gambling pattern first and foremost for yourself. This is a way of taking good care of yourself, now and in the future.
- Look at what you have achieved so far: Recognise the progress you have already made. You have already identified what has been helpful to you in managing high-risk situations to control your gambling. There are still lots of things to learn how to do in the next section, Tools for Change.
- Reframe the event. People who succeed recognise that setbacks and lapses are part of any difficult change process. You can learn from your lapses and use your learning to get your life back on track.
3. Analyse your lapse
The more you understand your gambling pattern and the specific influences that keep it going, the easier it becomes to adopt new ways to manage these. To learn from the setback, you can:
- Review the situation: Think about your understanding of your triggers for gambling and what you get out of it. Were there any ‘warning signs’ before your lapse? If so, what were they? Have you learnt anything new?
- Review your efforts to control your gambling: What has worked? What hasn’t worked? What else do you need to try or learn?
- Next steps. If faced with the same situation, what would you do differently now? What will you build into your action plan for change?
4. Ask for help
If you feel you have done all you can, you are not sure what caused the setback and you are concerned that it will happen again, you can:
- Continue reading the self-help sections: Tools for Change will give you more ideas and coping strategies to try out in managing your gambling habit.
- Check out what happened with your supporter: Sometimes an outside perspective from a supportive friend or family member can be really helpful in thinking things through and identifying the next steps.
- Refer yourself to the West Midlands Gambling Harms Clinic: If you feel you need professional support, self-refer yourself to our clinic.
Remember, whatever route you take, you can do it!
View our other self-help resources
What is gambling?
Find out more about what gambling is, its impact in the UK and if your gambling habits are problematic.
Understanding your gambling
This develops your understanding of how and why you gamble and the impact it has on you and the people close to you.
Taking control of your gambling
This helps you to manage high-risk situations and stabilise your gambling, here and now.
Tools for change
Tools for change is about managing your internal triggers (urges), cognitions, and difficult emotional states. This will help you develop ways of managing your gambling over the long term.
Finally, this section offers ideas for relapse prevention and developing new connections and new lifestyles that are meaningful to you and don’t involve gambling.