You’ve been on a plane right? Each time before wheels-up you see the steward stand in the aisle wave their arms in the direction of the exits and talk about the inflatable vest, the whistle and the light. We’ve all done workplace fire drills and maybe you have an emergency evacuation plan for your home? Basically, we know that you don’t wait until things are really bad before you work out what you should do in an emergency to give yourself the best chance of survival.
So what’s your gambling plan?
When you’re calm and rational, think about what you’ll do if a gambling urge strikes. Think about what you can do in different scenarios, write down a solution that appeals to you for each and keep it handy. Should there be a gambling emergency you’ll have a game plan ready to go.
Start by becoming aware, and writing a list, of what some of the danger times are for you, and danger situations. What triggers your gambling? They might include things like passing the pub on your way home from work. If you’ve had a fight with your partner and you’re angry or upset, or if you’re feeling down or overly excited. Maybe it’s when you have had a few drinks, being around friends who like to gamble, or just plain boredom. Whatever your triggers you, have a list of things to avoid.
Now look at your list and work out a strategy to address each one. Like taking a different route home from work, keeping busy to beat the boredom, maybe starting a hobby.
A family member or friend you can call for support when an urge hits is a good idea. Even a counselling line can be a support person. Try Gambling Help, GA or Lifeline. Try to come up with a solution to each trigger on your list.
If gambling is a passing thought
Acknowledge the thought, but then focus on your goal of changing your behaviour. Distract yourself with something physical you might want to chose one of these or come up with your own.
Go for a walk, call someone, visit a friend or neighbour, organise to meet a friend somewhere. Do some gardening, play with the dog, watch a movie, join a group or maybe become a volunteer!
A persistent thought
Focus on your goal of changing your gambling behaviour, review why you wanted to stop. Think about the money you have saved since stopping gambling, focus on your promise to friends and family, remember the awful feelings gambling gave you and how much better you have felt without gambling.
Write down a list of your reasons for not gambling to remind yourself why you’re choosing not to gamble. What are the consequences of you continuing to gamble? What are the benefits of stopping? How did gambling make you feel? You can include the thrill of that occasional win but focus on the negative feelings too. That sick feeling in the stomach, guilt about time and money wasted, scared of being ‘caught’, and bills not being paid. Remind yourself of the promises you’ve made to family and friends to stop gambling, and most importantly, the promises you’ve made to yourself!
You find yourself thinking about it all the time
Prepare a statement that relates to your goals, something that reminds you about why you wanted to change your behaviour and concentrate on the success you have had. Keeping your goals small and achievable can help, allowing yourself the enjoyment of reaching them. Goals can be things like having better relationships, saving for a holiday or new TV, spending more time with loved ones. Whatever is important to you! And remember to reward yourself when you reach a goal!
You might want to consider making a statement, even just to yourself, like one of these “Since I have stopped gambling in the past four weeks I have saved $800. Gambling is not a way to make money it is an easy way to lose money”.
“Since I have controlled my gambling, I have been to 3 family events and enjoyed being with my friends”.
“I am in charge of my life and know gambling has damaged my relationships. I chose to do something else that makes me feel good about myself.” If the thoughts persist, you might want to talk to your counsellor or Gambling Help (available 24/7), call 1800 858 858.
You’re looking for funds
Assess how much you can afford to spend on gambling, make sure you’ve already paid all your bills and have the important things like groceries and transport covered.
If you’ve already used the money you’ve budgeted for gambling and you’re looking for more, then it might be a gambling emergency, call Gambling Help 1800 858 858, GA or your support person.
Never borrow money to gamble! And never loan a friend money to gamble, this will only reinforce their gambling behavior.
Think about how good it will feel when you are on top of your bills, the cupboard and fridge are full and you have some money left over from not gambling.
You’re going to the venue
If you’ve rationally decided you’re going to the venue then it’s control time – set limits for how much money you’ll take and how much time you’ll spend.
If you find yourself thinking about going to a venue and you know you really don’t want to it’s a gambling emergency – call Gambling Help 1800 858 858, call GA or your support person.
Going to the venue
Decide how much money you’ll spend. Take a small amount of cash – separate cash for food and drink, transport and gambling.
Leave ATM and credit cards at home, maybe put them in a container of water and put them in the freezer or give them to someone you trust.
Set how much time you’ll spend at the venue – plan to do something after, meet friends, go out for a meal, watch a game, see a show or go to the movies.
At the venue delay your gambling time, meet a friend for a drink first, get something to eat or play a game of pool.
It can be hard going it alone, so remember to talk to your support person or phone Gambling Help 1800 858 858 if the going gets tough.