Gambling as an escape

Escaping reality

While people get into gambling for a myriad of reasons, problem gamblers often engage in gambling in order to escape from negative emotions. These emotions might include loneliness, boredom, anxiety, stress and even depression. For example, many gamblers might rush off to the local pub or club after an argument with a spouse, or to “de-stress” after a hectic day at work. Does this sound familiar to you?

Many venues are safe and friendly environments, with regular patrons often surrounded by friends and acquaintances. Is it any wonder a gambler’s mood improves upon entering? Once a session commences, a gambler’s mood usually further improves, as their attention shifts away from personal problems and focuses in on play. Thoughts focused on winning dominate: “Am I up?” “Am I down?” “How long until the next feature?”. This intense focus on play is a powerful distraction, and personal problems seem to miraculously disappear. Have you experienced something similar?

Gambling can be such an effective means of distraction, such a powerful means of escape, that many individuals don’t see their gambling as a problem in their lives. Rather, they believe it is part of the solution, something that makes their lives more liveable. Have you ever felt this way?

The reality though, is that gambling nearly always plays a detrimental role in the lives of heavy gamblers. It can cause a range of harms including financial problems, relationship difficulties, health issues and emotional problems to name just a few.

Most importantly, while “escape” explains what gets gamblers into a venue in the first place, it doesn’t explain why problem gamblers are unable to stop gambling once a session has begun, while recreational gamblers can. Understanding why you can’t stop once you’ve started is a crucial step in controlling gambling. The good news is that a counsellor can help you with answering this tricky question.

If gambling is, or is becoming, a problem for you, help is at hand. Free, confidential and non-judgmental support and treatment is available – call Gambling Help at any time on 1800 858 858.

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