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100 day as my first goal

The 100 Day Challenge is a program where you set your goals - reduce your gambling or stop gambling altogether, it's up to you. Log onto the 100 Day Challenge website to follow the real stories of four Australians trying to give up gambling for inspiration and get the tools and support you need to find the real you. Click here to sign up, and post about your own challenge here on the Gambling Help Online Community Forum!


100 day as my first goal

Postby DFP » Mon Aug 28, 2017 10:12 am

Hi all. I had my last pokies bust last week, so today is day 6 for me. My goal is to stay off the pokies forever, and I see this 100 day challenge as my first goal on that journey. In the past I have gone long periods of time without playing but frustratingly have always relapsed (does not make sense - but I guess that is the disease).
I have two key times when I am particularly vulnerable to a bust - when I am away, on my own, travelling with work; and when I go out after work for drinks (which isn't too often) and at the end of the event I find myself breaking away and finding a venue.
One of my key strategies is limiting access to cash - I have a credit card with no cash advance which I can safely use, and carry a small amount of cash. When I have had a bust, my subconscious has conned me into needing my ATM card (this is a tricky disease).
I am looking forward to this challenge. And look forward to the shared support to make sure I maintain control and stick to my controls, and stay accountable.
I have wasted a lot of money in the past, and these days my control is better (I used to go to the club several times a week and not even recognise I had a problem). I know now that I have a problem but I need help to stay quit and not have periodic busts!
I have read people's stories on this site, and so many of the experiences resonated and made full sense to me. In time, I am hoping to successfully control my disease, and be able to share my success to help others. This is a motivator too.
So here's day 6; and today I have limited access to funds and I will not play the pokies.

DFP
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Re: 100 day as my first goal

Postby Jerry (facilitator) » Mon Aug 28, 2017 3:32 pm

Hi DFP,

It sounds like you are really determined to quit this gambling habit, and you have a great strategy. Limiting access to cash.

I think that limiting access to cash is a fantastic strategy in the short term, but not so great in the long term if it is your only strategy.

The way I look at it there are two main strategies to overcome gambling. 1) making it harder to gamble (self exclusion or limiting access to cash), and 2) finding positive alternatives to gambling (finding new hobbies, new ways to relax or reduce boredom).

Your strategy of limiting cash is great, but would work much better when you also start finding positive alternatives to gambling.

So when you are on one of your work trips and are alone you have an urge to gamble. What do you think you are trying to get from that (It's usually more than money). Could it be as a way to relieve boredom or find something social to do? What other ways could you do that when you are traveling?

I think that finding a positive alternative to gambling will really help you to kick this habit for good.
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Re: 100 day as my first goal

Postby DFP » Mon Aug 28, 2017 7:09 pm

Hi Jerry
Over the past few years, as I have moved on from my bad period of gambling (going several times a week) I have certainly discovered or rediscovered many activities - I've got back into running, cycling, long walks, reading a lot more. My life is so much better than is was - and I am mostly spending my money in positive ways and my time more constructively. Despite all this, I am clearly susceptible to a subconscious urge. Despite rationally knowing it is not a good idea, and knowing there is so much more I could do with my time and money. It is a very very devious and complex disease for it to still beat me occasionally!! Frustrating as hell.....but it is clear it will never go away, so I am now focusing on daily reinforcement and harm minimisation strategies. Over the past year I have probably only gambled on about 12 occasions - so I mostly in control doing constructive stuff. But the 12 times I left my guard down cost me about 3 or 4 grand!!
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Re: 100 day as my first goal

Postby POPEYE » Tue Aug 29, 2017 8:09 pm

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Last edited by POPEYE on Wed Sep 06, 2017 3:07 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: 100 day as my first goal

Postby DFP » Tue Aug 29, 2017 9:35 pm

Hi Popeye
I hadn't thought about cutting up the card, and keeping the number for online purchases. Makes sense! I am fortunate in that online gambling does not interest me one bit (I can rationalise 100% that it's a bad idea and not to go there). Same with lotto etc. It is just the pokies in a venue. That activity is mostly under control (it wasn't in the past and my life was a waste - days with minimal money for food until payday, not spending on my interests, wasting so much time at venues rather than on hobbies). Much better place now but still vulnerable to the demon creeping up and causing a bust. Limiting access to cash permanently is not a problem for me - I don't generally spend much, and as you say I can put it all on the credit card which has no cash access, and pay it off every month. Day 7 today. I have a test tomorrow night as I am going out for a few drinks with friends - but I am confident that I won't bust as I won't have access to funds. Plan ahead!
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Re: 100 day as my first goal

Postby POPEYE » Tue Aug 29, 2017 11:35 pm

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Re: 100 day as my first goal

Postby DFP » Thu Aug 31, 2017 7:01 pm

Success. Went out last night and did not go to the pokies. I did not have ATM card, just enough cash for meal and drinks. Had massive thoughts to 'gamble' but as I had no significant amount of cash I couldn't. This happened several time. Nice waking up this morning knowing I didn't waste hundreds. Day 8 done.
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Re: 100 day as my first goal

Postby POPEYE » Fri Sep 01, 2017 7:56 am

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Re: 100 day as my first goal

Postby jimi68 » Fri Sep 01, 2017 9:06 am

hey dfp,
great to hear your cash limiting is working to prevent you from gambling...and I expect than when you have done this for a length of time
like weeks or months you will find you havnt gambled long enough your urges may reduce...
Also you will get used to delaying gratification and it will be becoming a behavior habit.
I agree with jerry that it would be more helpful if this was not your ONLY strategy.
Spare a thought though as you travel the road that the day is coming in the future when you will have access to money like in normal
circumstances..Perhaps by then you will no longer want to gamble..
but you may get urges to gamble when the no cash situation is no longer assisting you to make that"' no gambling decision"'.
In those situations a different strategy might be needed.
but for now..
one step at a time...
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One problem I had over the 10 years that I gambled regularly was that when the gambling induced pain was over I would sort of forget and then one day I would get the urge I would be feeling like its not so bad, I can do it safely this time etc..
My problems are over..... thing are normal now..
almost like my beliefs about it had changed.
Allmost like I had become the happy gambler again....
needless to say I would start off feeling responsible but by the end of the visit I was doing all the worst of it again..
Confusing to feel like I'm two different people in the same day....
I enterd the venue as "'the safe responsible gambler"'..and left "' the irresponsible fool!!!!!!"'
in a funny way I suppose that each time I lost and went home and then gambled again the next fornight when my money came in again..
It was sort of locked up for those two weeks...
so I guess I was locking my money up (by having none) for each of those fortnights for 10 years and it never stopped me from gambling..
I would be waiting to access cash and then was straight back in there the next time....
evry fortnight for 10 years.......
but that's just me
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do you think that analizing your thought process that you had during those 12 times you went and understanding them might help.
What got you to go those times?
Were you vulnerable because at those times you didn't feel any gambling guilt and thought it wont be a problem?
Were you depressed, or angry, or
Did you just go into the venue on impulse?
etc..
What sort of fantasy thoughts did you have?
Was it to win money..... or to have somewhere to go?
If you explored these occaisions with a councilor do you think you might be able to equip yourself with
strategies to respond to these occasions...?
That's what I did and I foun it very helpful.
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Re: 100 day as my first goal

Postby DFP » Fri Sep 01, 2017 7:52 pm

Thanks Jimi68. Your description of your feelings when you used to gamble regularly certainly resonate with mine. Also the urges and the regret and the "no gamble decision" which was regularly ignored.
I realise that I didn't provide sufficient context in my initial posting. Limiting cash is not my only strategy. When I "woke up" to having a problem about 8 years ago, I went to a psychologist for a series of consultations. We explored a lot of my issues - the main ones being regret about my past, trying to escape reality when things got hard, and using stressful periods as an excuse for irresponsible behaviour. Also specifically we explored how the rational part of the brain is not as fast to react as the emotional part, and pokies influence the emotional reaction. So delayed gratification, not listening to the first thought etc etc were very useful concepts. My life improved immensely over that year, and I have maintained the strategies and since that time I mostly spend my time productively and constructively; my priorities and decisions are for the most part aligned to my values.
So, when I go away with work etc. I have all the strategies lined up - I take my running shoes, gym clothes, a book, music; I arrange to meet people for dinner or coffee if possible; and before the trip I go through how I am not going to stuff up and gamble etc. But despite the preparation and the strategies, I can stuff up and gamble. I wouldn't say it was driven by stress or boredom - rather a purely opportunistic reaction from the gambling demon that lurks in me. In the past I went without ATM but I managed to get cash on my credit card.
So it is against this background that I am focusing on the strategy of no cash and no cash advance on my credit card, in addition to all my other strategies which I continue to deploy. I have a test coming up next week as I am away for a night with work (I should add that I have a wife and kids, so when at home I rarely have the chance to gamble; but when I am away on my own I have the opportunity to play the pokies without being found out). I am feeling confident that I will be able to control the situation next week, as I will plan ahead and make sure I have no cash access. And I'll also deploy the other strategies of being busy.
I find the stories on this forum extremely helpful. Especially the ones from people who describe their busts etc. And use these as learning opportunity. I recall advice from the psychologist - quitting is the easy bit; it is staying quit that's hard.
I am feeling strong. 10 days after today.
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