Gambling, Gaming & Technology Use
Knowledge Exchange

Dealing with Relapses

Remember, a gambling problem may get worse before it gets better. Some people with gambling problems find it very hard to get their gambling under control or to stop. If the person has a big win while trying to change, the problem can seem less urgent.

For those who have been working successfully on change, it is not unusual for an unexpected trigger or a buildup of stress to lead to relapse. It is difficult to make changes consistently without ever making a mistake. Relapses are very hard on everyone, and should be avoided if at all possible. But if they do happen, they do not have to lead to disaster.

If a relapse occurs, the goal is for the person to stop the gambling as soon as possible, work on understanding what led to the relapse, and plan how to better deal with the trigger that caused the gambling slip.

You can help by treating the relapse as serious, but not as a reason to despair. Treat it as a learning opportunity, to be worked on as a team if possible.

However, if relapses continue to happen, and/or the person is not taking them seriously, understand that they are no longer in the “action” stage of change. They have slipped back to stage one or two. Your actions need to match their stage of change.

Some people stop gambling, but replace it with drinking or taking other drugs, or with excessive internet use, shopping or other problem behaviours. Such behaviours should be discussed with a therapist, to make sure the person is not simply replacing one problem with another.

Some families find it hard to believe that counselling will help during this difficult stage. However, for most people, it does help.

Self-Help for Family and Friends
Does someone you care about gamble too much? With these interactive excercises, learn why they gamble and what you can do to help.
Gambling Quiz
Answering these nine questions will help you understand if gambling is having a negative impact on your life.
Self-Help for Those who Gamble
Do you gamble? These interactive tools will help you explore, cut down or stop gambling.
Monitor Your Gambling & Urges
Use this tool to keep track of when you gamble, or feel the urge to gamble. Mobile App also available.
Introductory Video
View a short introductory video to learn more about the Self-Help Gambling Tools.