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Regaining control

If your gambling is causing problems in your life, there are things you can do to stop it being an issue. You can take steps to change your life.

Set some goals
Setting short-term and long-term goals may help you to stay focussed and clear about cutting down or giving-up your gambling.

Avoid high-risk situations
High-risk situations like use of credit cards, taking out loans, carrying large amounts of money with you, using gaming venues for socialising or gambling as a reaction to emotions will weaken your resolve to control or stop your gambling.

Talk about it
Talking about gambling problems with somebody you trust and someone who won't judge you can ease the pain of bottling it up. It can also reduce the stress that can cause you to continue to gamble.

There is no doubt that if you have help from your spouse and close friends you are more likely to succeed. Make an effort to explain your problem to your friends. Most people can understand the problem of getting addicted.

Once you can admit that your problem may have hurt them, and you can tell them so, then they will be barracking for you.

Ask for help
If you are finding it difficult, you do not have to handle your issue with gambling on your own. A support person makes it easier, especially if you've got serious problems caused by gambling. This person might be a spouse, parent, friend or counsellor. Many people seek professional help. Beat the Odds has free, confidential help, advice and support services.

Talk about lying
Many problem gamblers end up hiding their gambling from people around them. This is understandable as it is hard to explain to a partner, family member or friend some of the things that problem gamblers do to keep their gambling going, such as borrowing money from finance companies or taking cash from a child's money box.

When people lie about gambling and debts, they may sometimes try to gamble their way out of debt so they won't have to ‘come clean'. This usually leads them further in to debt. Coming clean about gambling with a trusted person can relieve pressure and provide the space to prepare a more thoughtful plan for recovery.

Lying is a hard habit to break. If you lie to your support person, it stops them being able to help you because they won't trust what you say. You and your support person need to talk about this and plan out how to cope.

Face the feelings
Becoming aware that you could be a problem gambler may cause feelings of shame and guilt. Self-blame and self-harm can increase stress and may urge you to gamble more. However, acknowledging the problem and taking steps to seek help can help you change your life for the better.

Be kind to yourself
Giving up when you've spent hours each week gambling can make you feel tense and irritable. This can feel even worse when you still go into the places where you gambled, like to the club if you played the slot machines, or pass a TAB or the casino on your way to work.

Stop beating yourself up over your issue with gambling and focus on the steps you are taking to overcome the problem. Acknowledge your positive achievements; write them down to remind yourself of your strengths and attributes.

Learning how to relax, getting plenty of rest and eating properly can help you stick to your goal of reducing or giving up gambling. You can try:

  • Muscular relaxation training
  • Exercise
  • Yoga
  • Meditation
  • A counsellor may be able to help you with your own strategies.

Try to find an alternative to gambling
Problem gamblers may spend 10-20 hours or more a week gambling. They also spend a lot of time thinking and worrying about their gambling. Many people also start gambling the first place because they don’t know what else to do. Try to find an alternative recreational activity or hobby to fill the gap.

There are lots of ways to do this:

Plan ahead
Get to know family and friends if you have neglected them while gambling
Take another part-time job
If you are a lunch-time gambler, go somewhere different with workmates, arrange to meet someone, take a sandwich and read a book, go for a walk or a jog
Take up a hobby or a sport
Set short- and long-term goals
Look at other things you can do to ‘treat' yourself
Make your home an interesting place to be in, with interesting things to do
Start to do the things you may have stopped when you started to gamble too much

Prepare for a lapse
A lapse occurs when you gamble again after deciding to stop. You do not have to continue to gamble if this happens to you. You can use this to learn more about what triggers your gambling. When a lapse occurs, examine what worked and what didn't work with your plan.

Problem gamblers can kick the habit. However, you must be fair to yourself. Excessive gambling is like an addiction. It is really hard to stop or keep it under control.

You can often predict when excessive gambling will reappear. You are more likely to lose control when you have bad times in other parts of your life that make you feel sad, anxious, angry or depressed.

When you feel this way, it's challenging to stick to your plans, as you may feel an urge to borrow some money and go back to the old habit.

When you feel like you might gamble again, or if you do gamble again, there are five things you can do:

1. Contact
Contact us on 029 2030 2101
There's always someone there to talk through the issue.

2. Talk to a friend or write your feelings and actions in a diary.
If you gambled, look at what happened and see if you can spot ways of stopping it next time. Look for the good bits too. Did setting cash limits help? Did you find it easier to talk about it instead of lying about it? These are big steps forward and next time it will be easier to cope.

3. Control your cash

4. Fill in the gap with new things to do

5. Practise your relaxation

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