The start of a New Year means making resolutions for many people, and hopefully you are feeling full of good intentions. The break over Christmas has given you the opportunity to reflect on the year past, and wonder what might lie ahead.
It is easy to start the year with the best of intentions, but if you don’t plan carefully you may fall back into old patterns and ways of thinking, as life catches up with you once more. Remember it is possible to avoid this by making small, achievable resolutions.
Ben*, a Gambling Help client, attended counselling sessions last year, to treat his sports betting addiction. He was a smart guy – a personal trainer, very switched on and ambitious.
It was not until Ben stopped gambling that he was confronted with the consequences of his problem gambling. Accepting the help and support from his family and gambling counsellor empowered Ben to stop gambling.
At times, he felt ashamed of what he had done, which is normal as people begin the road to recovery. It became clear to him that he now had to focus on his recovery and set some small achievable goals.
Some of the strategies and goals that have helped him are:
- Setting clear goals – Ben was very clear that he was done with gambling, and set a specific goal of getting to 3 months without a bet. When Ben got to 3 months he was feeling so good about things that he committed to another 3 months, and after that to 6 more months. Setting small goals at first means that we are more aware of our achievements, and can celebrate them.
- Reward your achievements – He had promised himself that if he got to that goal he would reward himself with something that wasn’t gambling. Like putting a deposit on a holiday for the following year. Having something very specific to work towards made things simpler than saying ‘I’m never gambling again!’
- Regular counselling sessions – meeting with a gambling counsellor regularly provided him with support as he shared the ups and downs of the recovery process. He also developed new ways to deal with risks of gambling. Eventually Ben began to thinking clearly, and making more rational decisions about his decisions to gamble.
- Planning for Success – The best predictor of future behaviour is past behaviour! Ben was able to look at his patterns of gambling in the past and realised that he is most likely to gamble when he is down, stressed or feeling lonely. Generally, he was less likely to gamble when he was in a good exercise regime and was seeing his friends regularly. Putting together an effective relapse plan with his gambling counsellor was an important part of his recovery.
With these strategies in place Ben has stayed on track for a year, and is in a much better place
He acknowledges that it wasn’t easy, but we found a combination of things that made a lot of difference. He stays away from gambling, money now has value again and his self-esteem has improved.
If you can relate to some Ben’s experienced, it may be helpful for you to talk to a gambling counsellor. If you call 1800 858 858, you can speak confidentially to a trained counsellor. They can even refer you to see a face to face counsellor for free.