Relapse never just ‘happens’.
Experience has shown me that there is always a reason for relapse and, that always, it begins long before we see it in action. Somebody I am currently working with described it as an ‘itch’. That he knew when he came for counseling the week before that the itch was starting and that he was at risk of relapse, yet knowing that, he still chose not to share with me that he was experiencing an increase in gambling thoughts. So, why was that?
It is all too easy to forget how quickly gambling gets out of control. From the perspective of a seemingly strong recovery it is easy to convince yourself that maybe the itch does not need to be shared, because you feel so in control.
Maybe too, there is a part of you that quite likes having that itch a secret… ?
After the initial relief of being free from the anxiety trap of gambling and getting back on track with relationships and finances, the novelty of living life in a routine, organized and ordered way can subtly slip from bliss to boredom. Another day in paradise can start to feel like an awfully long day… Looking out onto the horizon and seeing those days stretching ahead into a lifetime, things can look a little flat. You know you should feel grateful for your hard won recovery, but you maybe you do miss feeling a little more alive. Having the secret thoughts at least seems to add a little spice…?
Maybe things have got a little tougher relationship wise?
Gambling addiction will have covered up the cracks in your relationship. There may have been arguments , but they will have focused mainly on your gambling and its terrible consequences on family and finance. Without gambling to blame for all the arguments, it is harder to paper over the cracks of your relationship. So, just keeping thoughts of gambling in mind, making checking the odds, doing a little free play as a little distraction from all the hard work of repairing relationships couldn’t hurt. Could it…?
Secret gambling thoughts become seductive.
It could hurt your recovery badly. What we feed grows. If you are allowing yourself secret thoughts of gambling they will grow and become more seductive. It is very easy to forget the pain and destruction and to be seduced by memories of feeling excited and alive or soothed by the slot machine or computer screen. Before you know it, you are just checking if your account might still be open . Just out of curiosity, of course, you tell yourself. It is then such a dangerously short step to convincing yourself ” just a few £s couldn’t hurt… ”
Feed you recovery:
- Tell someone you are having an increase in thoughts of gambling. Accountability is key and can help grow trust in others because you have been honest.
- Break the seduction spell: Remember your most painful moment from your gambling days – that is the reality of relapse.
- If here and now is dull or difficult: focus on how you want things to be in the future and how to get there – it is unlikely that gambling will be a constructive part of that plan.
It is absolutely normal to have gambling thoughts from time to time. Just don’t let that itch stay a secret until you cannot resist the urge for a very painful scratch.