Considering making a change- we can help you!
Recognising that gambling may be a problem
Gambling stimulates the brain’s reward system which is why people continually gamble to feel the positive experience that leads to losses. People with gambling issues are driven to keep gambling to recover their money — a cycle that becomes increasingly damaging and difficult to break. Some people may have times where they gamble less or not at all however, without treatment, the period of abstinence is not usually maintained. For example, after the COVID enforced break from gambling, many people returned to their usual problematic gambling behaviours despite promising themselves they would no longer gamble. This can be disappointing, but with treatment you can stop the cycle of relapse for good. A typical sign of developing a problem with gambling is that gambling becomes a preoccupation, more frequent, with no breaks or days without gambling.
Some other signs include:
● Do you struggle to control gambling urges?
● Are you spending more money on gambling than you plan to?
● Are you spending more time gambling than you plan to?
● Are you chasing your losses?
● Do you feel like gambling has taken over your life?
● Are you neglecting other areas of your life such as relationships or work commitments?
● Has gambling become an escape from problems or negative emotions?
● Over time, are you placing bigger bets to get the same feeling?
If you think you could be experiencing issues with your gambling, keep reading and call us for a chat.
Reconnect with your values – a great place to start
If you are looking at this section you may have decided that you would like to consider changing your gambling behaviours. Reading this section is a great start! Sometimes when people get caught up in gambling they lose track of their values which are important to them. Values provide direction and meaning in our life. For example, a person with a strong work ethic may value their career, while others may value spending time with their family and friends or to provide a good life for their family. When people begin gambling more than planned these values may be pushed aside in the urgency to gamble and try to win back past losses. For example, money loses value, work commitments can fall behind and family and friends are sometimes hard to prioritise. Take time to identify your values – begin by asking yourself questions about what is important to you and why.
Some examples include:
● Being fully present and focused on relationships – family, friends and pets.
● Passions/ interests which excite and inspire you such as cooking new dishes or painting a new picture.
● Work/ career progression or study. For example, being proud that you always try to do your best at work and study.
● Volunteer or unpaid work which helps to provide a sense of purpose.
● Health and wellbeing such as sports, medical needs, time out for relaxation.
● Humour – you may have lost the ability or focus to appreciate the humor of the situations before gambling took over. Humor is important because it improves people’s mental state and also reduces stress.
● Your religious values.
● Aventures where people enjoy pushing themselves to do new things.
A meaningful life needs a balance where your values are part of your daily routine. Can you identify some of your values that may be neglected because gambling has become a priority? If you notice that gambling is taking priority over these values it is important to add these values back into your life. Some people find using a daily schedule is helpful to prioritise their values in their daily routine. For example, scheduling time for family activities or personal well being. A routine can help reintroduce people back to healthy habits and balanced life. A daily routine can provide structure and a sense of accomplishment and make days more manageable. Routine helps fill in the spaces in people’s lives where they are most vulnerable to gamble. Begin by setting regular times in which you go to sleep, wake up and have nutritious meals. For some, rediscovering their lost values can seem challenging Our team can help you to add what’s important to you back in to your life If you would like to speak to our team about how best to get started, call now.
Beginning the change process
Beginning the change process helps people start gaining control over their gambling and work towards breaking the gambling cycle.
Here are some questions to consider when your thinking gambling may be an issue for you:
● What am I getting out of gambling?
For example, are you gambling as a way to soothe or to escape feelings of grief or loss. Some people say gambling gives them time out from grieving a lost partner, boredom or sadness.
● What would life be like without gambling?
For example, think about what life would be like without gambling? When people break the gambling cycle they can begin to think clearly where money has value and people around them start to trust them again.
● Having professional support is important when thinking about making a change.
For example, seeking professional support is an important part of making a change. This may include a GP, professional friend or family member.
The safest decision for most people deciding not to gamble is to commit to not gambling at all. However, sometimes it takes a while to make this commitment. We can help you work out if stopping gambling all together is what you want. Making small changes You can begin by making small changes to start with. Remind yourself often about the reasons you’re making these changes to your gambling. Equipping yourself with information about gambling is important and empowering to help you understand gambling and ways to move forward. Take some time to look at this website, you will find some helpful information. A good starting point is to remove the temptation to gamble. One of the best ways to do this is to make sure your money is safe and out of reach to gamble.
Money is a powerful trigger to gamble and having money can make gambling difficult to resist. It is important to have a budget plan in place and strategies that will help you to start to cut back your gambling For example, start resisting the temptation or urge to gamble whenever you can. These small steps of letting the urge pass can help the urge to slowly lose its power over time. An important step is to have support -someone you can talk to and who will listen to your issues – a GP is a good start. Identify triggers that lead to gambling such as hotels, sporting apps, friends who gamble and enticing TV shows. Be careful of these triggers. Having a plan in place is a good approach. For example some people don’t carry cash or credit when they know they will be exposed to these triggers.
Another helpful tip is to try replacing gambling with more positive behaviours. A good strategy is to re engage in sport or a hobby you enjoyed before gambling took hold. Some people look at opportunities to develop new interests – community centres and local councils often provide some good ideas Reward yourself for your achievements. As this goal is achieved other values will come back into your life.
● money will start to have value
● you will be more focused and present at work/study and home
If you want some help to get started our team can support you. Call now to make time to have a chat. Lapses – A lapse when you gamble against your wishes is common when people begin the change process. Reaching out for professional help is important if you find yourself lapsing back to gambling. Remember that deciding to change your gambling behaviour is a considerable step forward. Our team is here to work with you and talk through the decision to make gambling changes.