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Relapse happens when a person returns to gambling after a period of time.  Some people have one or more relapses, which can interrupt their recovery time.  By examining what led to relapse and learning from the experience, you can renew efforts to remain gambling free.

Relapses are generally proceeded by weeks, months or even years of irrational thinking.  Recovery depends on the constant maintenance of new attitudes and responses to life.  If these are neglected, old attitudes can resurface and lead to relapse.  Fortunately, relapse can be prevented if danger is recognized early enough such as through an action plan.  If relapse does occur, people can always return to recovery.

Certain situations are especially dangerous for relapse such as holidays, special occasions, unexpected money and time periods of about three months, one year and five years after setting out into recovery.  You can decrease risk for relapse by noting these times and seeking out support for yourself during them.  People, places and events may also contribute to relapse.  Consider who or what may be triggering thoughts and urges to gamble and then work through issues with support.  Some other factors that may lead to relapse are:

  • Depression and loneliness
  • Over confident about recovery
  • Feeling unappreciated
  • Anxiety
  • Anger
  • Impatience or frustration
  • Trauma and loss
  • Unrealistic desires
  • Self-pity
  • Testing yourself
  • Dishonesty
  • Stress
  • Returning to places you gambled at
  • Exhaustion
  • Clouded or irrational thinking
  • Insomnia or dreams about gambling
  • Lack of support or neglecting recovery program
  • Inappropriate use of substances
  • Forgetting to acknowledge accomplishments
  • Believing that you have all the answers
  • Believing that relapse can't happen to you

Preventing relapse requires an ongoing effort to detected danger signals, avoid dangerous circumstances, practice habits and attitudes that strengthen your recovery.  Become a regular participant in supportive programs.  Check yourself regularly for danger signals with the help of a trusted family member or friend.  Remember to make recovery your first priority in life.  Relapse should not be considered the end of the world but you must take responsibility for your actions and resume your recovery.