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Suggestions for When You Have an Urge to Gamble

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First acknowledge the urge. Become acutely aware of it – how you feel and what is going on in your mind. Then say to yourself, “Oh, OK. I am now having an urge to gamble. Right now I want to gamble.”

Then, say to yourself “NOT TODAY… I DON’T GAMBLE ANYMORE!”

OK. So your urge to gamble is very strong. Again, acknowledge the urge and become aware of what is happening and say to yourself, “OK, maybe I’ll gamble in 10 minutes.” Wait 10 minutes. If the urge is still there, say to yourself, “OK, maybe I’ll gamble in another 10 minutes.” Then find something else to do for 10 minutes. If the urge persists, keep putting off gambling for 10-minutes stretches. Keep doing this. The urge to gamble will pass.

Make believe your mind is a slide projector and the thoughts that enter your brain are slides. Go to a quiet place, close your eyes and CHANGE THE SLIDE! Refuse to entertain thoughts about gambling. Think about a family member, a loved one, your job, a pleasant activity – anything but gambling. You can do it if you quiet your mind and concentrate.

Accept the fact that you cannot gamble safely. This may seem painfully obvious, but many GA members have reported relapsing after having debated mentally with themselves on this point. Among some of the common inner arguments: “It’ll be different this time,” “I’m not that bad yet,” “I’ll quit once I get even,” and “I’m due.” Acceptance is one of the key components of the GA program.

Say the Serenity Prayer: “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” Repeat the prayer until the urge dissipates. A quieting of the mind will quiet the urge to gamble.

Work Recovery Steps Two and Three. Envision yourself giving the urge to gamble to a Higher Power. Many GA members live by saying, “Let go and let God.”

Go to a Gamblers Anonymous meeting regardless of the way you feel.

Go to a quiet place and meditate. One simple method might be to close your eyes and stare out into space, visualizing the urge as a concrete object (it doesn’t matter what it is). Concentrate on it for several minutes. As you hold the object in you mind, visualize it breaking up into tiny pieces. Your urge to gamble will disintegrate with it.

Telephone someone you trust. Tell him or her about your urge to gamble. Leaving cash, checks, and credit cards behind, go and meet with someone.

Stop dwelling on the urge, start a new activity such as reading a book.

Get outside of yourself. Go and help someone else.

Think the bet all the way through and weigh the consequences. Most of us don’t consider the possibility that if we gamble, we might lose. Consider the possibility that you will lose. Think of all the other times you have lost. All forms of gambling are losing propositions. You will probably lose again. Will losing this money – in addition to money already lost and problems you already have – really make you feel better? And if you were to win, what would happen to the money? What has happened to all the money from past winnings? Where is it? What is the cause of your current financial situation? Isn’t it gambling that has put you into this predicament? Can’t you see yourself betting away any winnings – PLUS MORE? Isn’t it true that with a win you might pay off a few bills, yet set aside some cash for MORE GAMBLING? Isn’t it true that any winnings would be used as ammunition to keep waging the war of gambling?

Write about the pros and cons of gambling in your life. Take a sheet of paper and divide it into two columns. On the left side, list all the good things that gambling has given you. On the right side, list all the bad things that have happened to you as a result of your gambling. Be thorough and honest. (Note: You may want to rate each item from 1 – 10 in terms of importance, with 10 being the most important and 1 being the least. When you’re through, total up each column and compare the score.) Once the list is complete, use this tool as a reminder of the effects of gambling in your life. Make a decision about how you will spend your free time instead of gambling.

Make a decision that you won’t gamble JUST FOR TODAY!

Again, these are all merely suggestions.

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