Five Steps to Beat Gambling Triggers


To beat your gambling triggers you need to understand what triggers you. A gambling trigger can be anything makes you think about gambling and results in a strong desire to gamble.  

It can be hard to ignore triggers as many of them may be part of your everyday life. They can cause people to experience excitement and persistent thoughts of winning which are hard to ignore.   These thoughts fuel the excuse to gamble making it hard to resist even when you have made a decision not to gamble.

Here are 4 Steps to help you begin to beat the triggers to gamble.

Step 1: identify your gambling triggers.

The first step is to identify your own triggers.  Here are some common gambling triggers below:

Everyday Triggers

Some common triggers include:

  • Money or even having no money
  • Overwhelming bills
  • Music that sounds like a pokie machine
  • Gambling advertisements, gambling venues including hotels and race courses
  • Watching sports or hearing sports on the radio
  • Hearing people talk about gambling

Some people have reported more personal triggers:

  • Smells – like the coffee served in a gambling venue
  • A full moon – sign of luck for some
  • A piece of jewellery resembling a gambling machine symbol

Emotional triggers 

These triggers cover a wide range of emotions from feelings of being happy to feeling sad.  For example:

  • Being alone,  feeling isolated or bored
  • Feeling sad, depressed or missing a loved one
  • Feeling lucky or positive after a celebration
  • Experiencing pain
  • Feel annoyed, cross or let down
  • Feeling tired, hungry or stressed
  • Being overconfident that you won’t gamble more than you can afford

Stop and think about your triggers and make a list.

This may take a few days as the triggers become more obvious as you look for them jot the down as you go so that you can really figure out what triggers you.

Step 2: Understand your own triggers

It’s normal to have different sensations associated with triggers when you try to stop gambling. These may include excitement, dread or an overwhelming rush to gamble.

By understanding what you are feeling and why you can make well thought out decisions and seek help if you need it.

As you learn to work through these feelings you will be able to identify what is happening and learn to wait out the urge as the feeling passes.  The more you resit gambling the less overwhelming these triggers will become. Eventually they will lose their power over you!

Step 3: Limit access to money

Money is one of the most powerful triggers for many people. Limiting and controlling your access to cash can be an effective safeguard against the urge to gamble. Some helpful strategies to get you started include:

  • Carry only enough cash on you to cover your daily expenses.
  • Leave credit cards and Eftpos cards at home.
  • Lower the daily withdrawal limit on your bank account 
  • Take Banking Apps off your smart phone – particularly if you can pay or withdraw with your phone
  • Cancel cash withdrawals on your credit card.
  • Have a debit card rather than a credit card.
  • Visa Gift cards –purchased at a post office – provide a handy way to purchase items without having direct access to cash.

Step 4:  Beat the triggers

The easiest way to manage triggers is to avoid them in the first place. However, this is not possible in everyday life. Having the skills to effectively manage your triggers will help you.   The best way to start is to ensure you have limited access to money (See Step 3) this will make it easier to resist the urges ion the first place.

Learn to deal with simple triggers first like being bored.

  • Once you start to feel the excitement or desire associated with the triggers wait until it passes.
  • Don’t be tempted to gamble remember the urge will pass.

If you’re not confident to let the urge pass by itself it’s important to remove yourself from the situation. Some people find going for a walk without money helpful while others seek support of someone they trust. However, as you slowly become more confident in persisting in riding the urges out like waves they will lose their power.

If you get caught by surprise with an unexpected trigger and have a slip-up, it is a normal part of recovery.  Use the slip to make you stronger. You may have found a new trigger out of the blue so now you will be better prepared for it next time.

Step 5: Seek support

No one strategy or set of practices can prevent or manage every trigger you might experience in your recovery.  Support is important to help keep strong so you do not give in to the lure of gambling. Talk to someone you trust or call us for free and confidential advise call the Gambling Helpline on 1800 858 858.

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