Can Recovering Gambling Addicts Still Watch Sports?

Are you a recovering sports betting “addict”? If so, you’re wondering if you can ever enjoy professional sports as you used to, before the gambling aspect of it took hold of your life. It’s a complicated question that you have probably received complicated answers to before. However, as America’s preeminent online resource for gambling disorder support we can provide some clarity. There are ways for you to become a fan again without getting pulled back into gambling’s dangerous web. Below is everything you need to know.

How Sports Betting Addicts Can Reduce Their Risk of Relapse and Return to Watching Sports as a Fan

Not Too Early

Early recovery is a trying time for sports betting addicts. Gambling relapse is common amongst those who return to viewing sports too soon. While there is no steadfast rule for when someone with gambling disorder can expose themselves to frequent sports viewing, one can look towards substance abuse recovery as a point of reference. It is commonly held that the abstinence stage begins immediately after a person stops using, and that post-acute withdrawal generally lasts for 1 to 2 years. Does this mean you must avoid watching your home team vie for the Super Bowl, NCAA championship, NBA title, or World Series for 1 to 2 years after you placed your last wager? The answer is different for you than it is for any one of your peers in gambling disorder group therapy.

Given that you’re in recovery, the assumption is that you’ve been working with a gambling disorder specialist. They will know where you’re at in your journey of recovery better than anyone. Ask your therapist if they think you’re ready to enjoy sports as a fan again. If you’re no longer in communication with a therapist, wait at least 6-months post-abstinence, and test the waters by watching a sport that you didn’t bet on before. If you feel the slightest inkling of temptation, give it another 6-months before attempting to “watch the game” again.

Ad-Free Viewing

It’s one thing for a recovering sports betting addict to watch sports again; it’s a whole other thing to watch sports while being exposed to a gauntlet of sports betting advertisements that will trigger urges to gamble. For the next year or two, only consume game-day content from online streaming platforms that allow you access to commercial-free sports coverage on your TV or web-enabled device. We’re not going to recommend any specific digital networks, but they do exist to showcase the biggest games of the week as they happen in real time, along with post game/week highlights. Do your homework regarding options as you prepare for your journey as a betting-free fan of professional sports.

Ask Friends and Family to Put a Lid on Betting Conversations

One of the funnest parts of fandom is the act of gathering with friends and family to cheer on your favorite teams and tear down opposing squads. However, these gatherings can trigger the urge to bet again if certain members consistently talk about covering the spread and hitting the parlay. If they are aware of your journey as a recovering gambling addict, those who care about you won’t have any issue with your request to put a lid on sports betting jargon when watching the game together. If they are not aware (i.e. as with new friends) it’s time to tell them if you’re comfortable in doing so.

Stay in Recovery

Is there such a thing as a recovered gambling addict, or are they (you) in constant recovery? Most of the disagreement over these terms is rooted on whether “recovery” is seen as an ongoing process or if “recovered” infers that abstinence has been mastered. We’re not here to debate this. Instead, we can say for certainty that they best way to mitigate the risk of relapse is to make ongoing counseling a part of your life. You can continue with regular one-on-one sessions, group sessions, or some combination that suits your preferences and ongoing goals.

Reentry into sports fandom as a sports betting addict can be a scary time, but when you have support from those who understand what you’re going through it will be easier than you could ever have imagined.

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