Coping With Problem Gambling During the Holiday Season

holiday gift box next to poker chips and dice

The holidays should be a time where we celebrate good friends and good food. However, if you have a gambling problem, then the holiday season can also be one of the most challenging times of the year. From sticky family situations to the additional financial stress of gift-giving, this time may actually be more stressful than the rest of the year — and that additional stress can cause us to seek out coping mechanisms, not all of which are healthy. If you’ve struggled with a gambling problem in the past, or are still in the process of dealing with one, there are healthy ways to cope.

Avoid Triggers When Possible

If you already know that something will trigger your urge to gamble, try and avoid putting yourself in that situation. For example, some people enjoy drinking at family get-togethers, but this can also lead to impaired decision-making or relaxed inhibitions, increasing the likelihood that you may choose to gamble. When you’re invited to a gathering where you know that everyone is going to be placing bets on a game or playing poker at the kitchen table, then it might be best to politely decline.

Get Friends and Family on Board 

Whoever you will be spending time with during the holiday season, make sure that they are aware that you are working through a gambling problem and can help you maintain healthy habits. You can request that your loved ones don’t discuss gambling or play games while you’re nearby. It can also be helpful to remind them to think carefully about the gifts that they choose. Cash and scratch-off lotto tickets are easy, go-to presents for some people, but it could be detrimental to someone who is trying to avoid thinking about gambling. Help them develop some alternatives so that they’re not stumped when it comes to finding the right present.

Have a Plan for When Things Get Tough

Sometimes, we can’t avoid triggers, and it’s difficult to get everyone you know on board with your plan. In those instances, make sure that you have a backup plan. For instance, having a budget — and sticking to it — can help you avoid the temptation of gambling with extra cash that you might receive from relatives. You can also have someone you trust help you stick with your budget as extra accountability. When you’re in the middle of a situation that makes you want to cave in, here are a few ways to try and get yourself out of that mindset:

A Season of Hope

The holidays are meant to be a joyful time where we celebrate with those closest to us as the end of the year approaches, but it may also be a time when you find yourself surrounded by more gambling triggers than usual. Whenever you need help with a gambling problem, you can always call or text our free and confidential helpline, 800-GAMBLER. We are available 24/7, 365, whenever you or a loved one need us.


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