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Gambling Blues Part 2: Strategies to Regain Control

Asking yourself how to stop gambling addiction? Check out these universal tips for taking back control over gambling. [Check out Gambling Blues (Part 1): Three reasons you keep going back to gambling despite the loss first]

Well, here we are folks, the anticipated Part 2 of Gambling Blues. I will touch on a few of the reasons that gambling is addictive, and strategies to regain control of gambling in your life.

(Part 1 Recap). We all have something that we struggle to have moderation with. Whatever it might be, we’ve all thought to ourselves... Why is this so hard to do in a healthy way? We can all agree that we want to feel happiness when we engage with our entertainment activities and control how much time energy and money we spend on it

Now for the goods. In Part 1, I mentioned three ways that gambling captures our attention and keeps in there. Here are solutions to regain control in your life.

Biological/Brain Chemistry: through the rapid release of pleasure chemicals we can develop a tolerance, and can even experience a withdrawal from activities like gambling.

Change strategy: Yes we may be at the whims of our natural brain chemistry, but there is good news! It is very easy to mindfully manipulate our own brain chemistry. Here are some strategies to try next time you find yourself mindlessly reaching for your device to gamble online, or standing at the ATM to take out money to gamble:

  • Change the situation, go to a different room, or turn off the TV, turn on music... Whatever you can do to change your environment.

  • Set a timer for 10 minutes and engage in a different activity until the timer runs out. You’d be amazed at how differently you feel after a quick 10 minutes!

  • Don’t try to problem solve at that moment. Now is not the time to try and figure out WHY you can’t seem to get enough, and HOW you will ever have control. When we are in an ‘aroused’ state we are less able to problem solve. Save the brain work for a time that you are feeling grounded and in control.

  • Move your body! A five-minute walk can be enough to short circuit that behaviour pathway and get your prefrontal cortex (decision-making center) back in the driver's seat.

Emotional Needs: We get our emotional needs met from things that we enjoy doing. Gambling is the same. Slots can provide a ‘detachment’ or ‘brain break’ from a busy or overwhelming life. Roulette and Poker create a false sense of control over the outcome and tend to feel very engaging; if a person is feeling detached from their day-to-day life, these games could be providing a chance to feel a sense of power and control.

Change Strategy: If you find yourself ‘overdoing’ it with gambling (or any activity really), ask yourself, what emotional need is being fulfilled for you? Is that undesirable activity actually helping you feel creative? Belong to something important? Take a brain break? Feel loved? Once you can get to the bottom of that emotional need, you can begin to think of other healthier ways to have that need met. Here are a few questions to ask yourself right now:

  • What am I feeling right BEFORE I begin gambling?

  • What am I feeling DURING gambling?

  • How do I feel AFTER gambling?

  • What need is being met? Boredom, sense of control, brain break, excitement, stress relief?

  • What OTHER activities in my life fill those needs? (Art, puzzling, call a friend, hike, read a book, play a sport, exercise etc.)

Make a list of activities that you can replace gambling with. Replacement is much easier than going cold turkey without addressing the emotional need.

Industry: The gambling industry is a business that generates revenue. Gambling games are created to capture your attention and keep it there. There are some easy but effective tools to have more control over your experience.

Change Strategy: There are so many ways that we can take back control over our devices. My favourite mantra: "Remember phone, I own you, you don't own me!"

  • Download a ‘Blocking Software’ that will prevent you from accessing gambling games on your device. Gam Block, Bet blocker and Gam Ban are a few.

  • Turn off notifications on your device

  • Control time: Android has a setting that will automatically lock you out of a certain app when you have reached your time limit (Link to how-to guide)

  • So does Apple! (Link to how-to guide)

  • Some banks will block you from making online purchases at your request

  • Self-exclude from online play sites. Sign up for a voluntary self-exclusion for regulated and unregulated sites for a predetermined amount of time.

These are just a few strategies of taking back control over your online experience

If these strategies to stop gambling interest you, and you would like to speak with someone for tips or resources to regain control in your life, connect today. Services are free and easy to access. You can find out more about the FREE Services provided by Kootenay Gambling Support here.

Thanks for reading, and I hope you have a lovely day full of moderation and fulfillment <3


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