For many problem gamblers, the holiday season and the onset of a new year triggers childhood, family, and other memories that are often painful. And, in some instances, problem gamblers and those they impact, including some in gambling addiction recovery, find that family gatherings can often create anxiety, isolation, and interfere in their healing process. Overall, while the holidays are intended to bring joy to millions, for so many, they wreak conflict in their lives.
Managing family conflict can present significant challenges, so it is important to have tools in place you can use to safeguard yourself from uncomfortable situations and conversations. Having a plan, in advance of an event, will help to assure that you protect your peace of mind. Just remember, you have the option of making your own decisions, so do not be afraid to voice your opinion. Keeping things simple will help to assure you are participating in activities you are comfortable with.
• Recognize triggers, whether they are people, places, or things. Prepare something in advance that can help you to cope with different scenarios, such as affirmations, meditations, etc. This will assure that regardless of where you are, you can create your own safe space.
• Host celebrations, which is one way to take charge of a situation, establishing what the ground rules are (e.g., participants, arrival time and end time, only non-alcoholic beverages, bet-free activities, etc.)
• Ask someone you trust to accompany you to the event, explain your feelings of discomfort, and outline why having reassurance will be helpful.
• Invite different groups of people who do not know one another, which will make things interesting and will stray from the usual.
• Just Say No! – It is better to say “No” than to say “Yes” and be resentful. It’s okay to choose to be by yourself or to just be with your immediate family if this will make you more comfortable.
• Surround yourself with friends and others who are supportive of you and your recovery.
• See a counselor and attend a self-help group meeting, which can help you put a plan in place.
• Separate people from the problem. If a sibling tends to cause conflict, insists on watching the football game, or always brings and consumes alcohol in excess, instead of figuring out how to cope, you can cut your losses by not inviting the person or by devising boundaries that are explained and agreed upon in advance, including consequences, if violated (i.e., will be asked to leave). However, do not establish boundaries unless you intend to adhere to them.
• Lower expectations so you do not set yourself up to fail. If you attend with an open mind and have zero expectations, it will help you to walk away without feeling disappointed.
• Be open to healing old wounds. Taking time to make amends can be very satisfying. While not all wounds can be forgotten, they can be cast aside so you and others can make critical strides.
Another important point to keep in mind for the holidays is when considering gifts for children, only buy age-appropriate items. Gifting responsibly is key, so while it may seem acceptable to some to purchase a lottery ticket for a child, keep in mind that lottery tickets are not child’s play and are only intended for adults in Florida 18 years of age and older. Click here to learn more about the 2021 Gift Responsibly Campaign.
Remember: When Gambling is No Longer a Game…888-ADMIT-IT is the Game Plan! Contact the 24/7 confidential and multilingual Problem Gambling HelpLine at 888-ADMIT-IT (236-4848), via text (321-978-0555), email (email@example.com), live chat (gamblinghelp.org), the 888-ADMIT-IT App (https://landing.appypie.com/888-admit-it), or on social media, such as Facebook or Twitter.