gamban® has been designed by people with first-hand experience in problem gambling. While our primary focus is software development and creating practical barriers from online gambling, we wanted to share some of our own ideas for recovery and minimising risk of gambling relapse.
Before we started gamban® we heard stories of people freezing credit cards in blocks of ice to create a ‘temptation buffer’ and a lady who, knowing she’d gamble only on weekends, would send her payment cards in the post to herself on a Friday, so they would arrive on Monday. We experimented with parental control systems where a friend was needed to look after a code and we explored other, more expensive and restrictive gambling-blocking software.
We hope, with gamban®, you don’t feel you need to resort to these methods. We also hope, in time, that you don’t even need gamban®. We see gamban® as a tool that can help people on their path to recovery, quite possibly alongside other forms of treatment. Like the dating site Match.com famously celebrate drop-offs in user numbers as a sign that people are finding love, we like to think that those who no longer require our software are out of the ‘danger zone’. That said, many choose to keep gamban® on their systems for ongoing peace of mind. After all, the cost of gamban® is negligible compared to the cost of online gambling addiction.
Here are some ideas that you may find helpful:
A new email address
You may continue to receive gambling-related emails and enticing 500% bonus offers after closing your account. It may be easier to start using a different ‘clean’ email address. Give yourself a fresh start – but don’t forget to update your gamban® account with your new email.
Learning to understand, tolerate, like and love yourself is a crucially important aspect to recovery. It’s important to understand that self-compassion does not mean self-indulgence. The objective is not to give yourself permission to gamble but to forgive yourself if you fall. Setting unreachable standards can be less than useful in recovery from gambling addiction. For more information on self-compassion and for some useful exercises visit http://self-compassion.org/ (one useful, if a little strange, exercise involves sending a letter to yourself from the perspective of a close and empathetic friend).
Draw a line
It’s OK; you’re never going to get that money back. It’s gone. The worst thing is to continue chasing. Learn and move on. You may be searching for someone to give you that reassurance that everything will be OK. If you are reading this with that mindset, then take this onboard: it’s what you do now that matters.
Know you will never win
You might win occasionally but what you win is almost certainly going back… and then some. One of the worst things that can happen to a gambler is a big win. You’re either chasing losses, or worse, chasing wins. The best advice is to stay away completely. The cost of advertising, licensing, buildings, salaries – you gamble long enough, you lose – it’s that simple. This alone probably isn’t enough to make you stop – and we understand that.
Give control away
You may need someone handle access to money in your state of vulnerability. Discuss this with parents, friends, family, partners – anyone you completely trust. Failing this, being accountable to someone else by showing them your bank statements means there is someone else included in your path to recovery.
It may be too hard to stop ‘cold turkey’ with no other distractions or alternatives to gambling. Quite simply, you aren’t going to find anything to rival gambling in terms of excitement. It’s designed to transition you from a high to a low and back again. Try to reduce the requirement for stimulation from an activity by engaging in more activities that involve ‘flow state’. Get ‘absorbed’ in video games, play cognitive strategy games or engage in something more meditative like puzzle games. The jury’s out on free-to-play gambling games and whether they act as a relapse risk or as ‘methadone-to-heroin’.
Using an application like Headspace can be extremely helpful in understanding your mind and slowing the response between thought, feeling and behaviour. Countless medical professionals suggest mindfulness as an effective option for problem gamblers.
Create digital barriers
By signing up to GAMSTOP (Spring 2018), you reduce the options for gambling with UK based gambling sites and with gamban® installed you reduce access to all gambling sites and applications.
Create physical barriers
Where do you gamble? In the bedroom? In the lounge? Then ban your computer from the bedroom and lounge. It may be easier for you to set rules on where you use your computer, than how you use your computer.
Shaving is saving
By ‘shaving’ off the middle 8 digits and security code of your credit or debit card, you remove the ability to make online payments. This may not be possible if you do the majority of your shopping online but if you can remove the ability to spend online then this might help. You may also need to close PayPal and other payment methods to enforce this barrier.
Whether you want to talk on the phone, message via live chat, email or talk face-to-face, there are plenty of options available. It is entirely likely that your gambling activity is symptomatic of another [deeper] problem and for this, we highly recommend therapy. For more information on available resources, please visit https://gamban.com/resources/.
Ultimately, we believe there is a place for will-power – or more accurately, ‘won’t-power’ – but effective barriers can be helpful in the path to recovery from gambling addiction.