It might not always be obvious if your gambling or that of a loved one is out of control. Remember, even people with gambling problems start off as recreational gamblers, perhaps going out for an occasional punt with friends over a few drinks on the weekend. No one starts out as a problem gambler.
What’s more, gambling problems develop so gradually, that most people don’t even notice the slippery slope that they’re on.
Do you plan your gambling sessions, rather than going spontaneously? Do you gamble regularly? Do you spend more than 5% of your weekly income on gambling? Do you gamble alone, or stay behind after everyone has left? Do you chase your losses? Perhaps you gamble to get away from negative feelings such as boredom, loneliness, or stress? These are just some of the warning signs to look out for, which could suggest you have a gambling problem, or are at risk of developing one.
It’s best to err on the side of caution, and reach out for advice if you have any doubts about your gambling, or the gambling of a loved one. You have nothing to lose by asking for advice, but have an awful lot to lose by pretending like everything is alright. Early detection of a gambling problem makes treatment or prevention much quicker and easier in most cases. And remember, treatment is effective in the vast majority of cases, even for people with rusted on gambling habits.
So if you hear the alarm bells ringing in the distance, heed their call!
For those who think they may have a problem with gambling, or if you want to know more, help is available. A gambling counsellor can be found by calling Gambling Help on 1800 858 858. Free individual sessions are available to anybody who might be concerned their gambling has gotten out of hand.
The Gambling Help website has a range of free resources and self-help tools available to download or order, as well as new community support forums where you can share your experiences and hear from others who are in similar situations. Visit www.gamblinghelp.nsw.gov.au/forum to join the conversation.