Identifying personal triggers for gambling is a difficult task, but the identification of such triggers is the first step toward being able to control them.
They may vary between individuals, as we are all unique in our personal experiences, but the list below provides some common triggers that many gamblers experience.
Low Mood: Feelings of stress, depression, loneliness, fear or anxiety can increase the risk that people will gamble to escape or relieve their distress.
Elevated Mood: Feelings of happiness, optimism or excitement can also make people more susceptible to engage in a gambling session, as they may be celebrating or ‘feeling lucky’.
Boredom and Time: Spare time can be a strong trigger for gambling, as people may wish to escape their boredom by engaging in gambling to provide entertainment. Free time can also lead to the formation of ‘scheduled gambling time’, for example if you have free time between work and dinner you may form a habit of gambling during these hours.
Money: Having access to ‘spare’ money and financial difficulties can both trigger a gambling session.
Access: Easy access to gaming venues, smart phone gambling apps and betting venues also increase the likelihood of a gambling session.
Alcohol and Drugs: The presence of alcohol and drugs can impair our self-control and ability to make rational decisions. Alcohol and drugs may also serve as an independent trigger as many individuals may only gamble when under the influence of these substances.
So how do we learn to manage these triggers? Strategies might include: distraction, relaxation techniques, financial planning (such as only taking a daily cash allowance and removing cards from wallets or giving control of our finances to a trusted family/friend/financial planner), and avoiding/reducing intake of alcohol or drugs can all help. Counselling or psychological treatment can assist individuals to identify their personal triggers and provide additional, personalised information about the strategies listed above.
If you recognise or relate to the triggers above, please contact Gambling Help on 1800 858 858, for free and confidential support. You can also order or download a free pocket-sized workbook from Gambling Help, to assist you in understanding your gambling, and take steps to make it more manageable or to stop altogether.