How to avoid gambling urges and triggers

Gambling addiction can be a relentless struggle, as the urge to place bets and the triggers that feed that urge can be overwhelming. Whether it's the thrill of a potential win or an escape from life's challenges, understanding and learning how to avoid these triggers is essential to a healthier, more fulfilling life.


In this article, we will delve into the intricate world of gambling urges and triggers, shedding light on the psychology behind them and offering practical strategies to help you break free from the cycle of addiction. By the end of this journey, you'll be equipped with the knowledge and tools to regain control and embrace a gambling-free future.

How to avoid gambling urges and triggers

Gambling urges and triggers can be powerful, but with the right strategies, you can overcome them and maintain a gambling-free lifestyle. Here are some key steps to help you avoid gambling urges and triggers:


Recognise your personal triggers. Identify the situations, emotions, or people that prompt your gambling urges.

Set financial limits

Establish strict financial boundaries to prevent impulsive spending on gambling activities.


Use self-exclusion programs offered by casinos or gambling websites to ban yourself from accessing gambling services.

Block gambling websites

Use website blockers or apps to restrict access to gambling websites and apps.

Find healthy alternatives

Replace gambling with healthier activities, such as exercise, hobbies, or spending time with loved ones.

Seek support

Reach out to support groups, therapists, or counsellors specialising in addiction to get your needed help.


Prioritise self-care practices like mindfulness, stress management, and relaxation techniques to cope with triggers.

Long-term commitment

Understand that avoiding gambling urges is a continuous effort. Stay committed to your recovery journey.

By implementing these strategies and seeking support, you can take control of your urges and triggers, ultimately breaking free from the cycle of gambling addiction. Remember that recovery is possible, and there is hope for a brighter, gambling-free future.

Identifying personal triggers

To effectively avoid gambling urges, it's crucial to understand and pinpoint your personal triggers. These triggers are unique to each individual but often share common themes. Here's how you can identify your personal triggers:


Reflect on your gambling history and identify the situations or emotions that precede your urge to gamble.


Keep a journal to record your thoughts and feelings when the urge to gamble strikes. Over time, patterns may emerge.

Common triggers

Be aware of common triggers like stress, boredom, loneliness, financial pressure, or peer influence. These are often universal catalysts for gambling urges.

Environmental cues

Pay attention to your surroundings. Are specific locations, people, or objects triggering your urge to gamble?

Emotional triggers

Recognise the emotions leading to gambling urges, such as excitement, frustration, or a desire to escape reality.

Social influences

Identify friends or social situations that encourage or normalise gambling behaviours.

By clearly understanding your triggers, you can develop a targeted strategy to avoid them and take control of your gambling urges effectively.

Strategies for avoiding gambling urges and triggers

Overcoming gambling urges and triggers is a vital step in the path to recovery from gambling addiction. Here are effective strategies to help you stay on track:

Self-exclusion programs

Enrol in self-exclusion programs offered by casinos and gambling websites to restrict your access to these platforms.

Set financial limits

Establish strict financial boundaries, limiting the money you allocate for gambling or other discretionary spending.

Website blockers

Use website blockers and apps to block access to gambling websites, making it harder to indulge in impulsive gambling.

Find healthier distractions

Replace gambling with productive, enjoyable activities like exercise, hobbies, or spending quality time with friends and family.

Support networks

Seek help from support groups, therapists, or addiction counsellors who specialise in helping individuals overcome gambling addiction.

Mindfulness and coping techniques

Learn mindfulness and relaxation techniques to manage stress, anxiety, and other emotions that may trigger the urge to gamble.


Share your goals with a trusted friend or family member who can provide support and hold you accountable.


Prioritise self-care practices, including exercise, proper nutrition, and adequate sleep, to enhance your overall well-being.

Avoid high-risk situations

Stay away from places or people that encourage gambling and may act as triggers.

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)

Consider CBT, a therapeutic approach that helps individuals identify and change the thought patterns that drive addictive behaviour.

Remember that breaking free from gambling addiction is a journey, and setbacks may occur. Staying committed is essential, seeking professional help when needed, and celebrating your victories along the way is essential. With determination and these strategies, you can regain control of your life and avoid gambling urges and triggers.

Seeking support

Recovering from gambling addiction is challenging, but you don't have to navigate it alone. Seeking support is a vital part of the process. Here's how you can reach out for help.

Support groups

Join a local or online support group specifically for individuals dealing with gambling addiction. Sharing your experiences and hearing from others can be incredibly empowering.

Therapists and counsellors

Consult with a therapist or counsellor experienced in addiction and recovery. They can provide personalised guidance and strategies to address your unique triggers and urges.


Utilise available helplines and hotlines to provide immediate assistance and resources for those struggling with gambling addiction.

Family and friends

Open up to trusted friends and family members about your addiction. Their understanding and support can be a significant source of strength.

Online forums and communities

Explore online forums and communities where individuals share their stories and advice on overcoming gambling addiction. These platforms can offer a sense of connection and understanding.

Gamblers Anonymous (GA)

Attend GA meetings, which follow the 12-step model and provide a structured environment for sharing experiences and receiving support.

Educational resources

Educate your loved ones about gambling addiction so that they can better understand your struggles and provide informed support.

Reaching out for support is not a sign of weakness but a courageous step toward recovery. The journey may be challenging, but with the right help, you can overcome gambling addiction and build a healthier, more fulfilling life. Remember, you are not alone, and a community of people is ready to support you on your path to recovery.

Self-care and coping mechanisms

Self-care is an essential aspect of recovering from gambling addiction. Implementing coping mechanisms and prioritising your well-being can help you manage the triggers and urges associated with gambling. Here are some self-care strategies and coping mechanisms to consider.

Mindfulness meditation

Practice mindfulness to stay present and curb impulsive behaviours. Meditation and deep breathing exercises can help you manage stress and anxiety.

Regular exercise

Regular physical activity releases endorphins and reduces the urge to gamble. Exercise is a healthy way to manage stress and improve your mood.

Healthy diet

Maintain a balanced diet that supports physical and mental well-being. Proper nutrition can have a positive impact on your overall health and mood.

Sleep hygiene

Ensure you get sufficient and restful sleep. Poor sleep can exacerbate emotional triggers and cravings.

Hobbies and interests

Pursue hobbies and interests that bring you joy and fulfilment. This can serve as a positive distraction and boost your self-esteem.

Stress management

Develop effective stress management techniques like journaling, yoga, or deep relaxation exercises.

Supportive relationships

Nurture positive relationships with friends and family who support your recovery. Social support can help you through difficult moments.

Avoid isolation

Resist the urge to isolate yourself when facing triggers or cravings. Reach out to your support network or engage in social activities.

Professional help

Consider therapy or counselling to address underlying emotional issues and learn healthier ways to cope with stress and triggers.

Goal setting

Set achievable goals for yourself and celebrate your successes along the way. Achieving your goals can boost your self-esteem and motivation.

Remember that self-care and coping mechanisms are not one-size-fits-all. What works best for you may vary, so exploring different strategies and tailoring your self-care routine to your specific needs is essential. The key is prioritising your well-being, strengthening your resilience, and providing yourself with the support and tools needed to avoid gambling urges and triggers effectively.

In the journey to overcome gambling addiction and the relentless urges and triggers that accompany it, you've embarked on a path of self-discovery and personal transformation. Throughout this blog, we've explored the intricacies of gambling urges, the triggers that set them in motion, and the powerful strategies at your disposal to maintain a gambling-free life.

It's crucial to remember that addiction is a formidable adversary, but it is not insurmountable. By gaining a deeper understanding of your personal triggers and implementing practical steps, you've taken the first bold strides toward a brighter future.

This journey will have its ups and downs. There may be moments when the urge to gamble feels overwhelming, triggers appear insurmountable, and setbacks seem inevitable. But in these moments, your resilience and newfound knowledge will be your strongest allies.

As you move forward, stay connected to the support networks you've discovered through support groups, therapy, or the understanding of loved ones. Seek solace in self-care practices that nurture your well-being, and never hesitate to ask for help when you need it. Your courage is not measured by your struggle but by your willingness to face it head-on.

Each day, you overcome an urge, each time you confront a trigger and emerge victorious, you're rewriting the narrative of your life. Celebrate these triumphs, no matter how small they may seem. And when you encounter moments of doubt, remember that you are not alone in this journey.

Recovery from gambling addiction is a lifelong commitment. It's a testament to your strength, resilience, and unwavering belief that a life free from the shackles of addiction is possible. Your journey is unique, and your destination is one of hope, healing, and renewed purpose.

By avoiding gambling urges and triggers, you are not merely breaking free from addiction; you are taking control of your life, embracing a brighter tomorrow, and building a future defined by your choices and well-being. With determination, support, and the strategies you've learned, you can navigate this path successfully, one step at a time.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author. All articles published on Counselling Directory are reviewed by our editorial team.

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Wantage OX12 & Rickmansworth WD3
Written by Hope Therapy & Counselling Services, Offering Counselling, CBT, Hypnotherapy, EMDR & Mindfulness.
Wantage OX12 & Rickmansworth WD3

Ian Stockbridge is the founder and lead counsellor at Hope Therapy and Counselling Services. 

As an experienced Counsellor, Ian recognised a huge societal need for therapeutic services that were often not being met. As such the 'Hope Agency' was born and its counselling team now offers counselling and therapeutic support throughout the UK.

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