Avoid
relapses

If you or someone you know is recovering from a gambling problem, use this information to help stay free of problem gambling for good.

Before you make a change,
set a goal

What exactly do you want to achieve?
Do you want to stop gambling completely?
Or do you just want to reduce the amount of time or money you spend gambling?

Some people choose to quit a particular type of gambling that causes them problems, but continue to play other types. Other people just try to cut back on their gambling by setting limits. But these choices require a lot of hard work and discipline. Generally, quitting entirely is the best option.

Once you do set a goal, commit to it completely.
Write it down like a contract and sign your name to it.

Get help for a gambling problem now

Call the Pennsylvania Problem
Gambling Helpline

1.877.565.2112

Fight the urge
to gamble

It's a struggle to leave old habits behind.
You have to be ready for a fight — but it's a fight you can definitely win with the right strategy and some support. You'll want to reach out to family, friends and professional counselors or support groups. And you'll need to find other things to occupy your time and keep your mind off gambling.

Urges to gamble are common when you're trying to stop. But each time you are able to resist, you win an important battle. And the urges will become weaker and less frequent over time. Below are some tips for fighting these urges and preventing relapses:

  • Find other things to do

    Boredom is a common problem with gamblers. You want to find new activities that you enjoy to replace gambling. Go to the gym, watch a movie, take a walk or take up a new hobby. Discovering new interests will add fresh excitement to your life and help keep your mind off gambling.

  • Put it off

    When it comes to breaking a gambling problem, procrastination is a good thing. Tell yourself that you'll wait 10 minutes. As you wait, the urge to gamble will often pass or become weak enough to resist.

  • Find strength in others

    Don't try to do it alone. Having a strong support system is essential. Reach out to a close friend or family member when you're feeling the urge to gamble. Or go to a support group meeting.

  • Concentrate on consequences

    Think about all the bad stuff that goes along with problem gambling. Like how you'll feel after all your money is gone and you've disappointed yourself and your family again. Urges to gamble may be strong, but they always pass. And you're going to feel a lot better about yourself when you resist the urge.

  • Trump your triggers

    A trigger is something that creates an urge to gamble. Everyone's triggers will be different. Some people use gambling as a way to escape uncomfortable or painful feelings, so feelings of depression or anxiety can trigger an urge to gamble. Others are tempted to gamble by things they see, like a TV poker game or a casino billboard. Think about what triggers you to gamble. Once you have identified your triggers, you will be better able to avoid and overcome them.

If you do relapse, don't be too hard on yourself or see it as a reason to give up. It's an uphill battle, but you can do it. Even if you do slip, use it as a learning opportunity and continue the fight.

Making new
lifestyle choices

Overcoming urges is part of the short-term struggle in breaking a gambling problem. For long-term success, you're probably going to make some fundamental changes in how you spend your time.

Know someone who has
a gambling problem?

You could be the person to start them on the road to recovery.

Make new lifestyle choices
to prevent relapse

You've quit or cut back on gambling.

Suddenly, you feel like there is an empty space in your life. You need to find new interests and activities to feel stimulated and avoid boredom. Here are some tips for making different lifestyle choices to avoid falling back into old ways:

You can't gamble without money.

Get rid of your credit cards. Limit access to money by having the bank make automatic payments for you, and keep a limited amount of cash on you at all times.

You can't gamble without time.

Make a list of things you would like to do that don't involve gambling. Take up a new hobby. Do volunteer work. Or just spend time with friends and family.

You can't gamble without anything to bet on.

Don't put yourself in tempting environments or locations. Tell the gambling establishments you frequent that you have a gambling problem and ask them to restrict you from betting at their casinos and establishments.

Don't do it alone.
Get help for
problem gambling

Call the Pennsylvania Problem
Gambling Helpline

1.877.565.2112