Gambling Addiction and Self-Sabotage in Recovery.

Stop Self-Sabotage In Recovery!


Stop Self-Sabotage


Today I want to talk about self-sabotage in recovery. I know the meaning of it very intimately. For those who don’t? Here is what it means.

Self-Sabotage: The dictionary definition of sabotage is “an act or process tending to hamper or hurt” or “deliberate subversion.”





In early recovery and through therapy, I was able to look back throughout my life and examine many of my past relationships where I had self-sabotaged them in many ways.
I feel that when we ‘self-sabotage’ things in our lives, it is tied to not having self-esteem or self-worth within ourselves. Like we are not “worthy” of love or people treating us well.

I was doing this way before my gambling addiction days. I would sabotage relationships, many with men and women. I can not count how many times I would be dating a really nice guy, and when things started to become serious and he would treat me like a ‘queen,’ I would for some reason feel I wasn’t worthy of  the ‘specialness.’ so,  I would just break up with them, or cause a fight or just ignore them and move on. Where this was coming from at the time I did not know.

But fast forward in life and I continued this strange self-sabotage behavior. When I became addicted to gambling and in the worst of it, strangely the feelings of what I was doing to myself, my husband, friends, and family felt oddly normal to me. Was it because I figured, “well since I feel not worthy of goodness in my life it didn’t matter if I hurt others with my gambling and toward the end alcohol abuse.” That was my sick thinking at the time.
Brain Dopamine Reward System

Then I move into my first year in recovery, well, actually it took me a few years to get there. Again, because I felt unworthy, guilt, and shame for what I had done for years within my gambling addiction. So how the hell do you get beyond the damages and destruction and move out of  “self-sabotage” into feelings of worthiness and loving yourself again? Good question right? For myself, some of it was medical as I had turned my part of the brain of “pleasure and reward” to mush from the years of compulsively gambling.

So I had to take a medication to increase the chemical that gives you pleasure and motivation. Because with gambling addiction, that is part of the reward system of this addiction. The winning or losing mode being constant within the addiction. So that part of your brain is being OVER used and depleted over time. I also was suffering from undiagnosed mental health issues as well, most likely since childhood as my doctor and psych doctor came to this conclusion the first time I ended up in an addiction/mental crisis center the first time in 2002 from my gambling and 1st suicide attempt. But that overwhelming fear of being able to overcome both my addiction and handle my mental/emotional diagnosis was terrifying to me.


Did I have what it takes to overcome all of this? Because as I was trying to come to terms with this whole mess, I was also learning many of the underlying reasons why I was doing what I was doing from past childhood abuse and sexual trauma, loss and grief unprocessed  as far back as 1992 when I lost my brother-in-law to cancer, lost my mom and my best friend as well. I was learning that all the verbal abuse from my parents of not being good enough, or saying I lied all the time, or I didn’t love my family because I was always somewhere else all the time. All these negative things being told to you as a kid, as a teen, and into adulthood can make anyone feel worthless and unworthy. They had no idea how hurt and damaged I already felt from being sexually abused by to men friends of my father’s.

I never told anyone as they would just say again I wasn’t telling the truth. So why bother? My mom was very heavy-handed when it came to punishment, so hell no I wasn’t going to tell anyone. But I was also ashamed and felt dirty, and that it was my fault for years. All this unprocessed shit was one of the reason’s I chose the path I took with addictions. I was looking for a way to “escape, hide, and cope,” as that huge tsunami wave of old feelings came back to haunt me and could not stuff it deep down away any longer.

But when I finally did seek treatment for my gambling and  alcohol abuse, I began the long process of purging, learning, and healing. Yes, it did take another relapse into gambling, another failed suicide attempt, and into treatment a second time in 2005, but finally began a hold in long-term recovery. I began therapy and was learning that what happened to me as a child was not my fault. It was not my fault that I have mental/emotional challenges, even though my side of the family didn’t believe or understand this.


Today I live my life in recovery for ME! Not my family, my husband’s family, or anyone else. I happen to come across an article a while back that really explained some of what did to destroy self-sabptage in my life and to crush fear to can self-confidence and learn to attain my goals. So I thought I would share some of the important area’s of this article, and you can read the whole article here: ….

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Self-sabotage is any behavior, thought, emotion or action that holds you back from getting what you want consciously. Moreover, it is the conflict that exists between conscious desires and unconscious wants that manifests in self-sabotage patterns. It not only prevents you from reaching your goal, but also becomes a safety mechanism that protects you against disappointment. In other words, your brain is protecting you from getting hurt by doing what it thinks is best, which is keeping you within your comfort zone.

Self-sabotage tends to linger in our lives because of a lack of self-esteem, self-worth, self-confidence, and self-belief. Likewise, we suffer from self-sabotage patterns because we are unable to manage our emotions effectively. We tend to react to events, circumstances and people in ways that hinder our progress and prevent us from reaching our goals and objectives.

Self-sabotage is also used as a method of coping with difficult situations or high expectations of ourselves or others that we unconsciously feel we are not capable of reaching. No matter what our reasons for self-sabotage it is clear that if we don’t do something about it, that we will continue to live a life full of regrets and unfulfilled expectations.

Eliminating Self-Sabotage Process

There is a simple yet very effective process that we can follow to help us eliminate self-sabotage from our lives. The process is composed of four steps that will help you to take conscious control of the behaviors that are currently directing your decisions and actions.

1. Identify Self-Sabotage Behavior

First we must identify the behavior that is preventing us from moving forward. To do this, we must become consciously aware of our daily decisions and actions and the resulting consequences. Once identified, it’s important to pinpoint specific triggers that may be causing this behavior to come through to the surface. These triggers could include people, objects, specific times, events, locations, etc. Next, we must ask ourselves whether we can avoid these triggers altogether?
By simply removing these triggers from our lives we will be better prepared to take conscious control of our thoughts, feelings and actions. However, there is yet another factor that we must take into consideration, which is the limiting beliefs we have associated with each particular self-sabotage pattern. The key is to identify these limiting beliefs, then work on transforming them into positive empowering beliefs that work for us rather than against us. One of the simplest ways to do this is the question the validity of your belief. Ask yourself:

What is it that I believe in this situation?

What is it that I believe about myself and my own abilities?

How did my belief about this trigger this self-sabotage pattern?

How is this belief ridiculous and impractical?

What would others say about this belief?

What is another more helpful perspective I could take of this situation?

These questions are a good starting point and will get you focused in the right direction.

2. Recreate Self-Sabotage Pattern from Beginning

Having completed step #1, you can now consciously recreate the self-sabotage pattern by outlining all the triggers and the associating behaviors that manifest as a result of these triggers. It’s important that you are clear how this behavior manifests in your life before moving onto the next step.

3. Identify Healthy Replacement Behavior

In order to eliminate an old pattern of behavior we often must replace it with a new pattern of behavior that’s more practical and helpful. This is important because often we simply can’t avoid certain triggers such as people, objects or circumstances that cause us to react in limiting ways. As such, we must take time to identify a new, different and appropriate way of responding that will help us to achieve our goals and objectives. Ask yourself:

How could I respond in a more appropriate and proactive manner that would help me get what I want?

How is this a better way to respond?

What are some reasons for making this change?

What could be the long-term benefits of transforming how I respond in this situation?

What are the key advantages of this new behavior?

4. Practice New Behavior Until Habit is Formed

Once you have identified your new behavior, you must now take the time to practice implementing it as often as possible over the next four weeks until a habit is formed. First begin by running your response to the situation in your imagination, seeing every detail, and feeling the positive energy churning through your body as you overcome this self-sabotage pattern. Now that your imagination has been primed, you are now ready to put yourself in situations that will naturally trigger your old patterns of behavior, however this time, you are primed with a new response mechanism that you will continue to practice over the next four weeks until a new habit is finally formed.

Again, I hope you will go read this full article as it has many tips and advice on taking control over self-sabatoge in your life and in your recovery journey!

Until Next Time Recovery Friends.

Author & Columnist for In Recovery Magazine,
Catherine Lyon 🙂


2 thoughts on “Gambling Addiction and Self-Sabotage in Recovery.

  1. Although the way to get out of the self-sabotage kick is simply just by replacing bad with good, it isn’t easy to put into action. For me the obvious is easy. I used to smoke. Not only is it a health risk and nasty to smell, but the financial cost is huge anymore. I was able to quit cold turkey and very little discomfort. Yet, trying to rid myself of morbid thoughts about myself seems to be completely elusive for me. It goes on and on with no end. My head tells me I’m a marvelous person, yet my emotions want to upchuck at the thought. Self-sabotage comes into play, making me nit-pick at all my flaws.

    Liked by 1 person

    • LOL… So true right Glynis? I think as you say, the action is easy to stop, but the habit or behavior seems to make us be doubtful and that keeps our “thoughts” going still.

      I think with anything, it can be easy to stop, but the mind can keep going until we learn to turn it off. Our self-thoughts seem to go along with self-worth, or how we feel about ourselves.

      I still have self-doubt or worth when I go to buy something for myself. I have a hard time still from past addiction, “am I worth this?” So yes, we need to feel and think WE are worth it!!



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