Managing Expectations During Treatment for a Gambling Problem

Treatment for problem gambling is only as effective as you want it to be. Two of the most important things to remember during the treatment process are managing your expectations and being patient with yourself. Whether you’ve just drafted your first recovery plan or have been trying to quit problem gambling for years, here’s some advice on how to follow these steps.

There’s No “Magic Wand”

Going to Gamblers Anonymous or calling 800-GAMBLER is a great step if you’ve been struggling to deal with your gambling problem — but simply taking this (or another) step won’t make your problems disappear. Nothing you do during the treatment and recovery process serves as a “magic wand” that will solve everything, and not every day in recovery will be a great day. Remember to avoid setting unrealistic expectations for yourself, and if you’re having trouble managing everyday life, it’s not a bad idea to consider seeing a therapist to address co-occurring mental health issues.

Keep an Open Mind

Open-mindedness is one of the best qualities to have when managing expectations about a treatment program. Don’t try to predict what will or won’t happen, who will or won’t be there, or how you’ll feel afterward. In addition, don’t judge people for what they do or don’t share. Men who gamble may cope differently than women who gamble. Older adults have vastly different experiences than young people. Some people only attend gambling recovery groups during early recovery, while others continue attending long after they’ve kicked the habit. It’s a mixed bag, so don’t make any assumptions.

Don’t Compare Yourself to Others

Many problem gambling recovery treatment programs are peer-oriented, meaning you’ll be talking with others in small breakout groups or one large group. This can be extremely helpful, but some people run into trouble when they begin to notice that others in the group appear to have better coping skills, stronger support systems, or increased self-control in comparison to themselves.

Comparing yourself to others is one of the worst things you can do if your goal is setting realistic expectations. Recovery isn’t linear, and being envious of someone else won’t help you or them get better, even if it feels unfair that they’re better off or luckier than you. Your problem gambling recovery journey is yours alone, and if you want to have long-term success, you’ll have to stop thinking about other people and start looking inward.

Take Things One Day at a Time

Climbing a mountain and recovering from problem gambling both happen one step at a time. Manage your expectations by dedicating yourself to recovery on a day-by-day basis, and don’t forget to be kind to yourself. Someday, you’ll look back and be amazed at how far you’ve come!

Call Our Helpline Today

If you need help dealing with your problem gambling, contact our confidential, toll-free New Jersey gambling helpline today at 800-GAMBLER. We’re open 24/7, and our friendly operators are ready to help you find the resources you need to quit. We hope to hear from you soon!


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