For many people, Christmas is a time filled with joy, fun and celebrations. Families across the world come together to catch up, enjoy food and exchange gifts, but for those recovering from a gambling addiction, it’s a time full of temptations that threaten their recovery, and increase the likelihood of a relapse.
With the increased financial pressure at Christmas time, a problem gambler may attempt to win large amounts of money in order to cover the cost. However, if this doesn’t go to plan and they lose money instead, they will likely be desperate to win this back, leading to gambling even further. A person should only spend within their means at Christmas, and not gamble to try and raise funds, as the person in question may end up losing money, meaning they are in a much worse place than where they started.
Other triggers can come from the least expected places, such as a well-meant scratch card or lottery ticket as a stocking filler, office raffles and sporting events where casual bets are made.
Over the holidays, it’s common for families to play card and board games around the table. In fact, a 2017 study by Coral Casino revealed that 84% of British families play board and card games over the Christmas period. As fun and innocent as this may seem, for those experiencing, or recovering, from a gambling addiction these types of games can trigger the urge to gamble, whether playing with real money or just for fun.
Other individuals may find themselves alone at Christmas time, and feelings of depression and loneliness can be rife, especially when Christmas is a time when so many families come together. In some cases, the individual may relapse when they feel isolated as a way to occupy themselves and avoid paying too much attention to negative feelings.
With all of these triggers in place at Christmas time, it is important to know what measures to put in place to avoid a relapse and continue your recovery successfully. If you haven’t started your recovery yet, get in touch with our expert team at Acquiesce today to find out how we can help!
Know Your Triggers and Try to Avoid Them
If you know your office Christmas party is at a venue where gambling may be encouraged, it may be worth speaking to your manager and making them aware of your concerns, and also preparing yourself for the temptation which may be presented to you. Similarly, if family get-togethers often include games such as poker, let them know you won’t be participating but would love to stop by before or after to see them. If your friends love to get together by watching a sports event and placing bets, it may be best for you to skip it this time and suggest you meet up to do something else another time. Alternatively, have an honest conversation with your friends about your concerns, people are often a lot more understanding than you think!
Avoiding your triggers doesn’t mean missing out on all the fun, it just means working around them in a way that works for you. If your loved ones are aware of your addiction, they will most likely be understanding of why you might be choosing to not participate in certain events.
Plan and Stick to Your Budget
Make a plan of how much of your disposable income will be spent on celebrations, gifts and events and put the rest away into a separate account to stop the temptation to spend it on gambling. Sharing this account with a partner or friend can also make you more likely to stick with your plans and help you stay accountable.
You can also speak with your bank of credit card lenders about limiting your spending and withdrawal amounts during the Christmas period and even longer if this proves to be a successful way of managing your finances responsibly.
Be Sensible about Gift Giving and Receiving
If you know that Auntie Barbara gives everyone a lottery ticket or scratch-card in their stockings, you should consider politely letting her know that she should miss you out this year. Alternatively, you could pass yours onto someone else, taking the trigger away from you either way.
Whilst a simple scratch-card may not seem like it’s doing much harm, the ‘instant win’ design can be particularly harmful to anyone recovering from a gambling addiction as they instantly let the user know if they have won a prize and give them the impression they were close to winning and therefore encouraging them to bet again.
Reach Out for Support
If you find yourself really struggling to resist the temptation to gamble, or even if you are worried about your mental health during a time which brings stress to many people, please reach out for help. Even if this means opening up to a friend or loved one about how you’re feeling, discussing it can take away some of the pressure you might feel, particularly if you’re alone at this time of year.
You can also reach out to your recovery practitioner. At Acquiesce, there is always someone you can talk to from our team over the Christmas period, so please don’t hesitate to pick up the phone and give us a call on 01204 771940.