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What to replace gambling with?  


Hi all, 

I am back here after a year or so and although that is quite a while I have been gambling most weeks during that time. 

My problem with my gambling addiction is the amount of time I waste on it not the actual money side of it. 

This weekend I spent most of my weekend gambling as I had no plans and my girlfriend was busy for a lot of it so I had a lot of time on my own. 

I ended the weekend £40 down which isnt a lot but like I said i spent 5 or 6 hours both days just on my phone gambling to keep myself busy.

Unfortunately this happens most weekends and has done throughout my 20s. I have spent the last 3 or 4 years with depression and anxiety which I know doesn't excuse my gambling but is a reason why I do. 

I am 30 in May and want to try at least try and cut down this addiction to the point where I am not spending hours each day staring at my phone. The problem for me is I moved away from home 4 years ago and do not have many close friends or family around me only my girlfriend who does know about my addiction.

I find myself with a lot of spare time most weekends and would just like to fill that time doing something more productive which I feel would then help me with my anxiety and depression too.  

Any advise ? Thanks 

Posted : 13th January 2020 8:50 am

What do you like doing ? What does your girlfriend like doing ?

Ideally do something with her. If its something you don't particularly like, well just suck it up - she has suffered alongside you now doubt, so you owe her time and attention.

Even us degenerate gamblers had something we loved when we were young but have let lapse.

I'm a great believer in exercise / sport to not only fill the time but help with physical or mental health.

I happily go for a local walk with my wife each weekend. We go for up to 4 hours. Walk from home, so its free although we stop for a coffee normally. If I was skint (and have been down to pennies) I'd take a flask.

We live in a city but combine parks so its not trudging pavements.

For keener walkers join a group like The Ramblers

They do walks every Sunday (with varying abilities) may involve a coach (approx £12) and this means being out from 8am to 7pm. Kills plenty of time.

Could do the same with cycling or a host of other activities depends on where you live. Bird watching, museums and galleries are often free.

You could get a part time job.

You could volunteer.

You could do DIY round the house.

You could sort the garden out properly if you have one.

The list is endless. You just need to take the first step.

Posted : 13th January 2020 9:09 am

Hi Ks2, 

Used to love playing football up until 4 or 5 years ago when I moved area and i just haven't got back into it.

The list is endless as you say its just taking the first step of breaking the routine i am in around gambling and coming up with some new hobbies. 

I have tried a couple times in the past year to start learning Spanish as that is something I really want to do just haven't got into the flow of it yet. If  can spend so many hours gambling i can give a couple hours to that each week.

I go gym twice a week but yes I will try go that little bit more as I agree it does really help with keeping busy, feeling good and mental health.


Posted : 13th January 2020 9:38 am
Lost and Found

It can help to do activities that peak your interests.  What were you interested in before gambling took over? If you weren't interested in that much, perhaps there may be clues as to what interests you from your gambling habits. You may have been particularly competitive at gambling? Did you like to be proved right over winning money? If so, you can find things that help bring out that competitive side in a positive way. Take up a new challenge, something that helps you better yourself, set targets and goals. Did you like the idea of making money.....if so, there are far better ways to make money and you could think about a side investment. I found it very interesting and challenging to pay down my debt and find ways to save money and make money. I took up selling on ebay and made a proper plan to budget by and pay down my debt. I took pride in getting my finances organised and this helped me feel focused and positive and gave me a sense of direction. I still have a lot of debt, but I know I am doing everything to help myself, so the stress of debt is not so great. I just get on with being gamble free and let time heal the rest.

Sometimes gambling gives us a sense of achievement because of being right about a you like games and quizzes? about Xbox, strategy games, online competitive games. Multiplayer games can help you work on lots of skills and also help you vent your frustrations etc... If your gambling was rather social, then multiplayer games can help fill that gap for you and it is much more constructive than people think, provided that you also set time limits.

Personally, I like solving things. I like challenges, puzzles...I realise that a lot of my gambling was me against the machine, even if all I ever did was spend 6 hours trying to get my money back. I still felt like a winner.

If you like working your way through levels and beating your own best, try gaming or take a short course to test your knowledge and skills. 

I do free online courses that allow you to answer questions on subjects that interest you. You could take up a new skill or build on an existing one.

I love being outdoors, so I started walking more and exercising. Beating your personal best on the treadmill is a great way to keep focused and burn off calories and it helps get rid of stress too.

If you are skilled at doing stuff around the house or garden...get crafty, show people how handy you are...Sometimes we gamble because we are bored and in doing so, we can forget to explore our talents and abilities which leads to further dependence on gambling to entertain us.

Get going with whatever suits your purpose. The vast majority of things you can do will be far better than wasting time gambling and you'll have extra money in your pocket too to do even more stuff that interests you.

All the best.


Posted : 13th January 2020 10:14 am

Hi CM3003.

You Replace gambling with a HEALTHY MIND. You replace gambling with a NORMAL LIFE and all that means.

In Recovery you will realise that there was never any excuse for feeling bored. The reality is that gambling is giving you a drug hit like nothing else you feel can.

You need to ask yourself why this is and keep learning.

All the warning signs are there with you....secrets...riding the losses and telling yourself it was only a small amount. 

It isnt though is it! If I took a tenner off you in the street you would be miffed. If you dropped all your money and it rolled down a grid you would be miffed. If you were overcharged on a bill you would be really cheesed off.

Abstention is the way. Telling your girlfriend is VITAL and handing over all control of your money. READY?? You seem far from ready and I will not soft soap you because I care.

This is no silly game about doing a jigsaw. A walk wont save you until you have the strongest foundations in place.

Gambling kills people! You are addicted. The help you need is tough love and cold turkey. You also need to face the depression and anxiary and tell people about it.

I answer these threads now in that you will have limited time for other hobbies. Your main hobby will be getting yourself right...working and going to GA meetings. It will certainly be doing exercises like talking about your gambling to family and trying to explain yourself.

Reality checks are what you need...They will sting but you need them repeatedly as you see the truth.

If you are ready for recovery you will feel a relief and serenity that you are getting help. If you are not ready you will grumble, feel trapped and that everyone is treating you like a baby.

On the contrary a proper recovery will save you life and you can never bee complacent again. You may have to call yourself a compulsive gambler for the rest of your life but that is a positive when you are healing

Best wishes from everyone on the forum

This post was modified 7 months ago by Joydivider
Posted : 13th January 2020 11:11 am

I know first hand how damaging gambling can be as my dad has been a gambling addict for the last 10 years probably longer. 

Constantly lending him money throughout my 20s and having to keep it a secret from other family members I know what it does to people. I just wish I had realises for the majority of time I was lending him money what it was for as he didnt come lean about his addiction until 2018.

I dont want to become like him, I just wish it wasnt so easy to access sites on your phone that would make things a lot easier and less people would have this addiction.

Posted : 13th January 2020 11:36 am

Join a gym maybe? Our son did that, not only does it take up quite a lot of time, it also uses a lot of energy and more importantly releases endorphins which should help you feel better about yourself.

Posted : 13th January 2020 3:29 pm

I was a gambling addict for 14 years, I would spend hours gambling like yourself and across that time I lost a ridiculous amount of money.  The biggest thing I also lost was time, between the age of 16 and nearly 30 I gambled and in that time I stopped so many hobbies and sports.  I used to play football until I injured my knee badly, I used to go fishing with my Dad and Brother most weekends, I used to do all sorts and gambling replaced all of that.

I have now been clean for 860 days thanks to gamcare and the counsellors who are connected to them along with my friends and family.  I have now returned to football as a coach for a local under 8s team as I am not able to play myself (hard pill to swallow at age 32 lol), I also go fishing and do this with my 8 year old step son who has shown a keen interest and plays for my football team.  When I gave up gambling filling the time was incredibly difficult because so much was taken up by my addiction but in time I got involved with different people, I volunteered to coach my footy team which takes up 3 days per week sometimes.  I used to do various DIY jobs aswell to fill time especially when my Mrs was at work and would send her photos to show I was doing it and keeping busy as at that time her trust for me was very low.

I hope what I am saying is helping in some way, gambling is an awful addiction and the time it takes up in our lives is ludicrous but it can be dealt with. Try something new maybe, take yourself out of your comfort zone and try a hobby, sport or whatever you think that maybe you would never have thought of trying before. Involve your girlfriend in something maybe, that’s always important.

best of luck

Posted : 14th January 2020 12:15 pm
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