Christmas can be a dangerous time for recovering gamblers. For some, it is an extremely lonely time of year and gambling is used as an escape; for others it may be a time to celebrate and let their hair (& guard) down. Thoughts like, “a few dollars in the pokies isn’t going to hurt” can be the start of a slippery-slope back into a full-blown relapse.

Here are a few tips to keep you safe:

  1. Self-care: It’s Christmas! Treat yourself to something affirming that you like – it can be as simple as a walk on the beach.
  2. Self-talk and the messages we send ourselves is also an important part of self-care. Challenge negative thoughts and practice forgiveness and self-compassion.
  3. Plan Ahead: be honest with yourself and know your triggers & warning signs and take control of your situation.

Attending a Christmas celebration at a pub or club can be a risky situation for a recovering gambler. If going to the party is important to you, have a plan. E.g. go with a support person, don’t drink excessively, only take enough money for food & drink.

  1. Don’t isolate yourself: Keep in touch and be as open as possible with safe friends/family & supports.

Local Churches often provide Christmas lunch for those that don’t have anyone to spend Christmas with – take advantage of what is on offer.
Doing volunteer work can be extremely rewarding for all concerned and can be a great social outlet.

  1. Don’t be afraid to ask for help: Gambling Help is available 24/7 on: 1800 858 858.

Merry Christmas,
Mission Australia
Gambling Help counsellor