Recently I heard from Chris who was having trouble with gambling. A uni student, Chris had lost $2,000 to gambling and was not only angry over losing money he really couldn’t afford but was experiencing headaches, anxiety and other signs of gambling stress.
We all find different ways to cope with what’s happening in our lives. There are lots of coping strategies we all use, and some are helpful but some, like gambling, can be harmful. Because it’s so easily available, gambling is one way people deal with life if they feel bored, lonely, stressed or depressed. What may be helpful is to look for other coping strategies that have other benefits like exercise and increasing positive social interaction away from gambling.
Feeling stressed, think about other solutions rather than gambling. Exercise can be as easy as meeting a friend for a walk or taking a four-legged friend for a walk (maybe there’s a neighbour who could use help with walking their dog) Look into alternative ways to relax, like walking, swimming (may be more comfortable an indoor pool this time of year), yoga or meditation.
If you’re studying, many student services include social groups and advisors who may be able to put you in touch with someone or a group that you could join for any of those activities. A number of workplaces also have social clubs with activities including sports or training for events like the City to Surf, yoga, film groups and outings for foodies etc.
Often it is money that causes us stress. For people trying to manage their gambling, it is important to put measures in place that will help you reduce financial worries and minimize opportunities to use money for gambling.
A key to managing your money is to pay for all essential items and bills first. Having a portion of your pay put into a separate account which is only accessible online is another way to limit your access to cash via an ATM.
You can also speak with your financial institution and reduce your ATM daily limit or look at options including having a trusted friend or family member hold your ATM and credit cards.
These arrangements won’t make it impossible to get at the money, but it will make it more difficult and give you more time to think about what you’re doing before you actually withdraw the money.
Another thing to thing about is self-exclusion. Basically it’s a signed agreement with a venue to ban yourself from the gaming area, or even from the whole venue. Then the staff have permission to make you leave if you’re spotted on the premises. Of course you could get around that by trying to sneak in, or by driving to somewhere further away, but by the time you’ve done that, you might have given yourself enough time to stop and think about what you’re going to do before you get there.
Self exclusions can be arranges at your venue or in some instances online. For pub exclusions refer to AHAhttp://www.ahansw.com.au/index.php/industry-information/gaming/help-for-problem-gamblers
Clubs NSW also offer exclusion from single or multiple Clubs. Gambling Help counsellors can also assist you with self exclusion.
Remember there are people who can support you with what you are going through. Specialists who can give you ideas on managing your cash and getting your gambling under control.
If you find that you need a bit more help, you might want to look at face-to-face or online counselling. Both are free and completely confidential and are really good when you are stuck and just need someone to point you in the right direction.
If you would like to find a local gambling counsellor either call the Gambling Helpline on 1800 858 858 and they can hook you up, or have a look at www.gamblinghelp.nsw.gov.au where you can put your postcode in at the bottom of the homepage and find the details of a counsellor near you (or any area).
You can also go to Gambling Help Online and chat to a counsellor via email or live chat.