When you work with a certified problem gambling professional from the Nebraska Problem Gamblers Assistance Program (NPGAP), the first few small signs of progress may be the most empowering. These little changes to your mood, your thoughts, and how you interact with your friends and family are the first markers of a new lifestyle — one that isn’t ruled by gambling.
To learn more about the process of managing your gambling, we sat down with a former gambler and an NPGAP professional to talk about the most noticeable signs of progress you can look forward to. And while these changes may happen slowly, every single one is a positive step towards a free, transformed life.
This is the true story of one former gambler’s progress, from consumed by gambling to living free and empowered
Once she started working with a NPGAP professional, the first change she noticed was less stress. She was used to feeling constantly worried about money, bills, and finding another place to gamble. But not long after she met with her NPGAP professional, her whole body began to relax.
Another early sign of progress was an improvement in her confidence. Instead of carrying the shame and guilt of gambling, she felt more in control of her life and hopeful for the future.
As she continued meeting with her NPGAP professional, she recognized another sign of progress — her priorities had shifted. She used to be so focused on gambling that all other priorities, like paying bills on time or going to her kids' events, faded into the background. But with her gambling under control, she had the mental space to focus on more important things. And she finally had the ability to get her finances in order and take care of the things that mattered most to her.
One of the final major progress milestones she noted was the feeling that her life had positive meaning again. Through counseling, she gained the support and accountability she needed to make changes she used to think were impossible.
Positive progress from a NPGAP certified problem gambling professional’s perspective
One of the first signs of real progress is that our clients start looking forward to their appointments. Instead of needing frequent reminders or skipping out on meetings, they show up eager and ready to get to work. A lot of times, these clients also willingly involve their families in the process. That shows they’re taking these gambling changes seriously.
Here are three more positive signs of progress we often see:
Increased transparency and honesty. Clients become more open about their slip-ups and setbacks, showing a willingness to take responsibility and keep trying. This progress point may take weeks or months to reach, but it’s a significant mile marker on the road to changed gambling.
Asking for resources. At first, clients may be reluctant to try new tools like mental exercises or setting new boundaries. But as they progress, they start to ask for these resources.
Taking responsibility. A clear sign that someone has “turned the corner” and made a real, long-term change is that they start taking responsibility for their gambling. They don’t blame it on their circumstances or surroundings — they understand that they truly have the power to change their gambling, and they use that power to live differently.
Changing your gambling may feel impossible. But when you have the support and guidance of a NPGAP certified problem gambling professional, you have a real chance of making changes that stick.
Every person’s experience with changing their gambling is unique. Some people have a life-altering experience that makes the decision to change their gambling simple. Not easy, but simple. Others realize that gambling is hurting them and their loved ones, but the process to change is slow. It doesn’t matter what your progress journey looks like, as long as you’re taking real (supported!) steps towards positive change.
Ready to see your own signs of progress? Get free, confidential help from an NPGAP certified problem gambling professional.
Anyone in Nebraska can get free help through the Nebraska Problem Gamblers Assistance Program. Call or text 1-833-BETOVER (238-6837) to change your gambling or get information to help your loved one.