Research says that a problem gambler can think about gambling up to 80% of the time. When you think about it, that’s a lot of brain time being consumed with gambling thoughts.
For many people, this is why giving up gambling is hard because without other hobbies and interests it’s easy to become bored, and the lure of gambling can pull you right back in again.
Everyone has slightly different ways of dealing with things. What works for you may not work for someone else and that is why it’s so important to develop a program with a professional gambling help counsellor that works for you and your needs.
Problem gambling, also known as gambling addiction, or compulsive gambling, is a type of impulse-control disorder and getting on top of it needs expert help.
Do you find it hard to control the impulse to gamble? Do you find you can’t stop even though you know your gambling is hurting not only yourself but your family, friends and loved ones?
That is the reality for many problem gamblers, and unless you seek help you will continue to be caught in the impulsive nature of gambling.
The life of a compulsive gambler is hard. Whether you’re up or down, broke or flush, happy or depressed, you will still be thinking and partaking in gambling activities unless you learn ways to control your behaviour.
The truth is, if you’re preoccupied with gambling, spending more and more time and money on it, chasing losses, or gambling despite serious consequences, you have a gambling problem.
Having a problem with gambling can make you feel isolated, as though no-one understands what you’re going through. But the truth is you don’t have to do this alone.
There are many people and services ready and able to provide help and support whenever you’re ready to take action. They can help you to take steps to control your gambling.
Gambling is always a game of chance and the odds are stacked against you in the long run. If you’re thinking about making changes to your life in 2011 why not try these five tips to help you change your life for good and wave goodbye to problem gambling forever. Many problem gamblers say that once they’ve taken the first active steps to deal with their situation, they immediately feel much more positive and in control.
There are things you can do today that will help you take control of your gambling in 2011.
• Self-exclusion (banning from venues)
• Keep a gambling diary
• Limit your access to money
• Get a helper
• Sign up for Free SMS Reminders
If you live in NSW, you have the right to ask a pub or club to exclude you either from the whole venue or from certain areas within it. In the case of clubs, you will need to sign a separate document for each club you may visit, although you can self-exclude from several hotels in one go. You can also ask the casino to exclude you. Your local gambling counsellor or Gambling Help can help you to complete this process.
To exclude yourself from online or mobile phone-based gambling, visit the GamBlock website onwww.gamblock.com. This is not a free service; charges can be up to $100US per year.
Keep a gambling diary
Many people find that they learn a lot about the things that make them spend too much on gambling by keeping a gambling diary. There’s one included in our Workbook, which you can order or download via the Gambling Help website www.gamblinghelp.nsw.gov.au
Or you might prefer to simply jot down the details in a small notebook. Each time you gamble, write down the day and date; the time; the place; who you were with; how much cash you were carrying and your net win or loss.
It’s also important to make a note of why you were gambling: did your friends encourage you? Were you bored, angry or stressed? By looking back at these details later, you will probably be able to see patterns emerge that give you an idea of what makes you want to gamble too much. You’ll also get an idea of how much you’re losing over the long run.
Limit your access to money
When you decide to gamble, leave your ATM and credit cards at home, and only take with you an amount of cash that you can afford to lose. NEVER ‘chase your losses’, or try to win back money you’ve already lost. This is the way that gamblers most often end up in serious trouble. Once you’ve lost, or won, walk away.
You can also consider asking your bank to lower the daily withdrawal limit on your ATM card.
Get a helper
Pick someone in your life whom you trust and talk to them honestly about your gambling and the fact that you would like to get more control of that aspect of your life. Ask them if you can ‘check in’ with them once a week, or as often as you need to, to talk over the steps you’re taking to change your life.
Making positive changes can be difficult when you first start. Having someone there to cheer you on can be a big source of strength and encouragement.
If you don’t feel comfortable talking to someone you know, call Gambling Help on 1800 858 858 it’s available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The person at the other end of the line has talked to hundreds of people just like you, and they understand exactly what you’re going through. You can call as many times as you like, at the cost of a local call, and you can arrange to speak to the same person each time, if you prefer. The gambling help websitewww.gamblinghelp.nsw.gov.au
also has a list of people and organisations near you who can offer help and support. All Gambling Help services are free.
Sign up for Free SMS Reminders
Are you more likely to gamble on particular days or at particular times? If so, visit www.gamblinghelp.nsw.gov.au and subscribe to our SMS messages daily, to help remind you of your decision to get your gambling under control. The messages include facts about gambling, encouraging messages and information about help and support.