People have described the barriers they put in place to help them stop gambling. These barriers make it hard to have the opportunity, money, or time to gamble. Many people find such barriers useful. Especially in the initial stages of stopping. Barriers help people to beat the urges and compulsions to gamble. People can start to clear their head of the ‘gambling fog’. They can start to make other changes.
Some have used tools to make it hard for them to access gambling. This could be self-excluding – telling gambling companies not to allow them to gamble. Others install blocking software that will not let them get onto gambling websites. Some give up having a smartphone.
Well, I popped myself on a five years [exclusion]. You can only do five years, so I did that. Went to the bookies next to me, gave my passport, and self-excluded that way. Even on my banking app, you can stop site-gambling on your card. It’s only for four days, but you can change it, but it takes four days to come back on. I’ve never changed it, but I know that it takes four days to come back on. It’s that thinking period, then, if you want to start gambling again.
Some people use financial controls so they cannot use their money to gamble. For example, not carrying cash around with them. They may give control of their finances to a partner or parent. They may use blocks provided by some banks. These blocks do not allow payments to gambling companies from your account.
And obviously financially, I’m not really responsible for my money anymore because I can’t be responsible for it. And that’s a hard, hard thing to hard thing to come to terms with yourself is that actually, for me personally, I’m not a responsible person, especially with money. So for some people to hear that, like, you know, you hand over your finances to someone else would be a really massive thing. You know, people like their independence, they like they have their own money. But for me, actually, that’s the best thing that’s ever happened to me because, yeah, it just helped in terms of not being able to, I can’t actually gamble even if I wanted to.
Some people completely isolate themselves away for a period.
I mean, it involved 123 days of not leaving the flat. It involved 123 days of what we now know is self-isolation where I lived in my own bubble, where I got rid of my phone, self-excluded from all the accounts so that if even I was tempted to have a £10 bet or whatever, I went round the betting shops and filled in all the forms to say, you know, don’t let me in and all the rest of it. I had my food delivered, had my medication delivered and I didn’t leave the flat for 123 days.
Others start or resume hobbies and activities to distract them. They fill their time with things that are not gambling. People also learn how to identify thoughts and feelings that before they would have gambled to cope with. Then they do other things to look after themselves instead.
I play 11-a-side football, and I just love football, I would play it every day if I could. There’s a team based around recovery, so basically, everyone on the football team is in recovery, whether that be doing drugs or gambling. We call them barriers, when you give your cards up and stuff like that, it’s like it’s just another barrier for me being in a group, and it’s so nice.
If someone cuts me up and I even have a flicker of anger in me or a flicker– straight away, there’s something wrong, something’s not right. There’s something in my brain today that is ready to fight, that whole fight-flight stuff. I’m ready to fight today, which means I’m likely to relapse today. Being able to pick up on something like that, for me, I feel now can save me. That can save my life, just that little moment of noticing stops where I am, makes me realise what’s going on. Whereas before, I never noticed those cues, and they were cues before, they were cues and they were signs that something’s not right with you today.