Most people’s recovery journey does not end once they have stopped gambling. They have described what comes next and the processes involved in rebuilding themselves. People try to understand and come to terms with what has happened. They reconnect with other people. They start to regain their self-worth and hope for the future.
After stopping gambling, many people try to process what they have been through. They may do this themselves through self-reflection, or through counselling, meditation or support networks. They may want to understand their own life issues that contributed to their gambling. Many have described having to deal with feeling anger towards gambling companies. They feel exploited. People may need to work through their feelings of guilt and shame.
It’s hard because, you know, you’re constantly reflecting on what you’ve done. Which so, is like trying to, I guess the counselling is helping me at the moment try, to try and to move on from that. Moving forward rather than just thinking, Oh God, I can’t believe I did this and that, and what I could have had. You know, the amount of time that I’ve spent gambling is ridiculous. You know, that was, let alone the money that I’ve lost, the amount of time that’ve spent, the amount of lies that I’ve said, and you know.
Some people describe how they start to feel self-worth again. They feel confident and more comfortable when speaking out about their experiences. They feel as if they can access support if needed. People have said they feel happier and go out more. They get back to doing things they enjoy. They may find new hobbies and activities that they like. They feel as if they are ‘living their life’. Often, people have described ‘seeing a future’ for themselves. They feel as if they have things to look forward to. These emotions are lost when they are gambling.
I’ve started to do things for me now, whereas I wouldn’t go out or do anything, and the last couple of weekends, I’ve gone for a night out by myself, which is really sad, but I have. I’ve sat there and there’ve been the slot machines there and I looked over and went, “No, thanks” and carried on with my night, whereas before I’d be like, “I’ll get some change and go and stand there for a little while”. My son said to me on Sunday, he’s like, “I’m so glad just to see you happy and living your life again” and I was like, “Thanks”.
I have got my life back. You know and there is hope, there is hope. I never thought I’d run a business again. I didn’t want to. I never thought I’d get married again. I never thought I’d see my kids again. I never thought I’d be credit worthy. I never thought anybody would trust with me with money. And we’re a cash business because we’re so small that we’ve only just the week before got a card machine. We don’t take lumps of money in the business, but so I never thought those things were possible. But, you know, there is hope out there.
I can only say and reiterate what I said earlier that, when you do stop, albeit it’s only early days. It makes you appreciate everything so much more, around you. It’s ridiculous but just to go to bed at night with a clear head knowing that I’m not worrying about things. It’s the norm but at the same time, it feels great.
People have said an important part of their recovery is connecting with other people again. This could be rebuilding relationships that are damaged during their gambling. They may focus on spending time with their family. It could also be establishing new connections. This is often within a community of people who have the experience of being harmed by gambling.
I’m a big football fan. I’m a big Tottenham fan as well. I couldn’t go to any games. I’d watch it in the pub and things like that, but now I go to every home game. As much as I can do, work-related kind of thing. It’s given me a new lease of life. I can watch the game for football just for enjoyment. Without having a bet on it, just watch the game for being the sport it is, instead of worrying about everything else.
It’s about meeting new people. If I’ve got anything in common with them, can they give me something for my recovery, because I’m not going to like everybody that I see, but the people that I engage with and everything like that, I do like to become close to and they’re close to me, but we need to do that all the time. As long as we’re building, as long as we’re still learning about ourselves, then we’re still moving forward, and that’s what I want to do every day. Every day I want to move one step forward.
There are practical elements that people must deal with. This could be rebuilding their credit scores or moving to a job that is less stressful.
At the moment, life, I’d say days are okay. I keep myself in a little bubble, I focus on what I need to do in terms of becoming debt free, all the legacy elements of gambling harm, I think I am in that sort of stage recovery of 18 months now, where sorting out my credit score, and debt and focusing on a career for the future.
People are still aware that they could relapse and get into difficulties with gambling again. Some have described how the urges are still there. Something could trigger them to want to gamble at any moment. However, they remain resolute that they will continue on their recovery journey.
A lot of people want to use their own experiences to help others. They are passionate about being able to give something back. For example, volunteering, training to be counsellors, setting up their own local Gamblers Anonymous groups, or campaigning for change.