With just a few weeks to go, the NFL will launch its 102nd season on September 9th and with last year’s Super Bowl win, Florida football fans are urged to put their game plan in place for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ home game. Given the upcoming kick-off, with teams scheduled to play 17 games each for the first time this year, while many fans are gearing up for the expansion of online sports wagering anticipated here in the Sunshine State, beginning as early as October 2021, for many recovering compulsive gamblers these changes can be unnerving.
For problem gamblers who wager on sports or other things, watching football can serve as a trigger in their path to recovery, prompting a desire to gamble. Therefore, the best course of action is to remember that when gambling no longer feels like a game…888-ADMIT-IT is the game plan! Having a plan in place in advance of the season’s onset, coupled with scheduled alternative activities with trusted family and friends can make a significant difference. When devising a plan, be sure it includes:
- The right focus – often recovering compulsive gamblers, particularly those in the early stages of the addiction, experience strong cravings and urges to gamble. While cravings can feel as though they will last forever, it is essential to remember these urges have a beginning and an end. Focus on the end period, but remember, 888-ADMIT-IT is the game plan, to help you through. Keep in mind each moment you delay or resist the urge you take some of the power away from the cravings until they dissipate. It feels like it will never happen, but it will. Trust the process!
- Avoiding triggers – If certain social settings or people present difficulties or serve as triggering points for you, make other arrangements and do not attend these activities. Making provisions and taking responsibility for your actions are key. While you may be the only one in a circle of friends who struggles with a gambling addiction, it is important to remember you are not alone. Many problem gamblers struggle in silence, so be sure to advise those closest to you that you can use their support to assure you stay on your recovery path.
- Find a buddy or a group of trusted friends or family to spend time with when the games are on. Scheduling healthy and fun alternative activities are a great start. Begin a walking or exercise group, meditate, volunteer at a pet shelter or elsewhere, explore new hobbies or complete a project at home, take day road trips to check out the beautiful landscapes and things to do in the Sunshine State. Floridians have the benefit of warm weather, so planning outdoor picnics and other possibilities are endless.
- Attend a self-help gambling addiction or similar support group meeting in person, by phone or online, or invite some friends over to watch a movie or for a planned barbeque.
- Keep the Florida Council on Compulsive Gambling’s 888-ADMIT-IT (888-236-4848) Problem Gambling HelpLine number nearby to assure you can make contact anytime you feel you need assistance or support.
The 24-Hour Confidential and Multilingual HelpLine can also be reached via text (321-958-0555), email (firstname.lastname@example.org), chat (gamblinghelp.org), the 888-ADMIT-IT mobile app, or on social media, such as Facebook and Twitter.