It's been just over a month since I last gambled, which is the longest time in three years. I'm managing ok with the urges but I have noticed a downturn in my mental health since quitting gambling and wanted to know if people have had similar experiences?
I feel tired most of the time, irritable and what sounds like a tension headache. It's sometimes feels like my head is a pressure cooker, and minor things seem to aggrevate me. I'm also spending much more time alone, and seeking quiet places.
Is this a withdrawal from gambling? As my brain isn't getting the dose of chemicals it would normally via gambling?
Does this feeling pass? If so, how long does it usually take.
Any advice or people's past experiences would be appreciated.
PS I don't think it's depression, but I've not suffered it before so I wouldn't know I guess.
Hi.... yes withdrawal from gambling is a very well thing just like any addiction. Like you say, your brain isn't getting the dopamine fix it was getting whilst you were gambling. Your neural pathways will have changed to reflect the highs and lows you were getting with your gambling. Stop gambling and it takes time for your mind body and soul to adjust.
Its like its very easy to switch from one addiction to another to meet an unmet craving... eg stop gambling, go shopping, watch P**n, drink stupid amounts of coffee etc etc.
I always go through withdrawal, cravings for me don't go immediately. I find jogging and walking helps to calm me down as I adjust to a gambling free normality.
Thanks for the reply.
Walking is something I'm trying to do more of, although I'm not sure if it's working as yet as I still seem to be stuck in this state of flux.
How long did you find it took to return to normal? I guess everyone is unique but would you think a month is a long or short time?
I can only speak for myself here but it took me at least 6 months to get back "into the swing of things" after I was found out the severity of my gambling. You certainly will beat yourself up if you have debts remaining after you've stopped (as I did), and you might linger on thoughts of "what if" I didn't gamble, I would have X, Y or Z. I'm over two years into recovery and I still get those regrets now and again. I think when things settle a bit and you find your "level" in terms of how much sport you watch, how much you talk about your progress to loved ones etc, things do start to get easier then, but it's still all compromised. All you can do is try and stay away from putting down a bet and "real life" stuff starts to become a bit more natural.
All the best, Happy
Thanks for your input, that goes someway in reassuring me, as I had read online that symptoms of gambling withdrawal last around 1 week, yet mentally I think it's still taking it's toll on me after 1 month. I suppose I'm starting to get little rays of sunshine through everyday activities, yet in the large it's still overcast. I'll keep plugging away a day at a time in the hope those rays of sunshine become a bit stronger and longer lasting.
I think my gambling stemmed from a desire to escape and deal with stress, I'd banned myself online a few years ago but it was bookies and arcades I then turned my attention to, although I did self exclude from these as well, I was still able to go to a local arcade under the radar I guess. So maybe it's stress building up, as I'm no longer confronting it with the gambling, my brain/mind is trying to deal with it in a 'normal' way, in which it had forgotten how to do. When I feel stress levels going up now, I either take the dog for a walk ,ring a friend or go to a quiet part of the house and watch TV alone etc. This seems to be working at the moment although I won't deny a few times my brain has screamed arcade but I know ultimately that's compounding the problem and have so far resisted.
Yeah I can relate to what you are saying. I would have been a recreational punter for a number of years but I guess I would have been "more active" than other recreational punters too. I'm sure there were times in my "non problem gambling" period where I probably staked more than I should have but there was nothing too damaging for a number of years.
Like you, things really escalated for me as a result of family and personal relationship stress. I got caught in the middle between my partner and family and it really impacted me. Unfortunately I did not address the problems and tried to "push them down" and just carry on as if nothing was wrong. I just hoped they would eventually go away but they didn't and as I got more and more unhappy and stressed, I leaned more and more on gambling in reclusive situations such as late at night on things like the NFL. Then I suppose when I started to borrow money that I didn't have to fuel my habit, I just "stopped caring" and I spiralled for a number of years and got into a huge amount of debt. When I first came into recovery I still carried a bit of resentment towards my family and partner for their actions but at the end of the day, nobody forced me to wager so much money and especially money that I had borrowed and wasn't mine. So I have had to accept that it was my fault and accepting that responsibility has been a big thing for me in my recovery. I often wonder how the hell I let it get so bad, I'm a well educated person and I understand right vs wrong, but I just put my head in the sand and allowed myself to create a massive hole for myself. I don't know if I'll ever truly get over that, but in the last 2+ years I haven't placed one cent of my money on gambling and I have addressed about half of my debt. I would have cleared all of it only I have also saved a lot of money to go towards a deposit for a house. So I guess I'm starting to give myself more credit for the last couple of years and be less angry at myself for the situation that I put myself and my family in. You'll need to stick with it I think. A month in recovery is great, but it gets better the longer you can abstain and it does start to get easier also. I hope you can stick with it and have a great future.
Hi Miscjoe.... Are gambling histories seem very similar. I too blocked myself from online gambling several years ago. The blocks proved effective but then the bookies and arcades and the machines within became the problem. Self-exclusions helped to a point but then if I really wanted to gamble I still would.
Similarly I often gamble to escape stress and how i feel about myself. Once in my gambling bubble I know am doomed as I seem to have no off switch. Its been a problem all my life really. I find the intense cravings do die down a bit as gamble free time passes but they never go away completely. Gambling on the slots has always been my thing, whether happy, sad, angry, whatever.... I think of slot gambling. I just got learn to live with that fact and keep working on myself and find other ways to cope when the urge strikes. Jogging and exercise is my main way, nothing else really seems to work.
Keep walking that dog
All the best... your doing mighty fine! 🙂
try going out for walks more
i try to walk for around an hour a day , yesterday i did two hours
leave your phone in the car and anything else that artificially stimulates the mind
when you are walking the mind can just relax this should relieve the headaches
the gym is also good but obviously is a more intense environment
Hi Miscjoe - I didn't have any withdrawal as such, but always before in difficult times, I could gamble to numb the pain from mental anxiety. difficult situations etc., so that they would get lost while gambling was at the forefront of my mind and consumed me. When you are not gambling, these things are a different challenge and your symptoms are familiar with me. Some advice I could give would be long walks (as other posters have stated) and meditation - just simple breathing exercises, maybe listening to music and just 'letting go' of the anxiety/agitation etc.
One thing is for sure, it does get easier with time. Stay strong & all the best, James
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