“At the start my relationship with gambling was good!” We hear this from lots of people who are trying to change their gambling behaviour, but when did this relationship change?
For some people gambling can be an enjoyable pastime, but for others gambling is no longer fun as they have lost control. It is not unusual to be unaware of when this change happened as they become immersed in it.
Often we can only see when the change happened when we look back with new insight, however there are some common themes we see from people who are changing.
Stories from people who have changed:
Samantha initially enjoyed gambling on the Pokies with her partner:
‘I started gambling at the pokies after having dinner at the club with my partner. We initially enjoyed putting our change in the pokies and having some fun together.
After a while gambling became a routine and we would just sit on our own and press the buttons and the excitement seemed to have gone except for the few wins now and then.
When we broke up, I would go there to gamble during the week on my own. It was somewhere to go rather than siting home alone. I started spending more and more time and money there, and one day I realised that I had been there every night for a week – that is when I realised I had a problem.’
Alex initially enjoyed a punt at the TAB but after a while, he noticed his gambling was becoming a problem:
‘I used to really look forward to going to the TAB with my friends when we were at the pub. Work became more stressful and I started going by myself, sometimes at lunchtime.
After a while I was going most days, and spending more than I could afford – after a while, it became about winning the money back, rather than having a wind down or a laugh.’
Both Samantha and Alex experienced a change in their relationship with gambling, taking it from a pastime to a routine part of their lives and eventually becoming a habit.
This experience is not unusual as we often hear from people that have become absorbed in their gambling.
Many people get to a stage where they are chasing the winning feeling or trying to make up their losses. They haven’t noticed that they have lost the enjoyment and it has become a problem.
If you think your relationship with gambling is changing it may to be time to take a break!
Some signs to look for:
- Is gambling taking priority over other things in your life?
- Do you spend more time gambling than you mean to?
- Are people commenting on how much you are gambling?
- Are you missing other things to gamble instead?
- Have you seen an impact on your finances?
- Do you not buy things you need so that you can gamble instead?
If you say yes to any of these questions it might be time to evaluate where you are at and have a chat with someone.
It can be difficult finding out you have may have a problem with gambling and it’s natural that at first you may feel disappointed or even upset.
But by reading this BLOG you have taken a positive step towards changing your gambling behaviour. The good news is that lots of people have quit gambling and have a better life.
Developing a change plan
Having a plan in place can make it easier to get yourself started.
Step 1 - List all the positives of quitting your gambling so you can remind yourself if you need a boost.
Here are some ideas to get you started:
- More money in your bank
- More time for your self and with your family
- Feelings of relief as you take charge of your life
- Improved health and wellbeing as you are not sitting for long periods gambling
Step 2 - Think about strategies you can try to change your gambling.
- Make plans for times when you would go gambling.
- Limit your money; only take enough cash with you to get you through the day.
- Tell someone you trust about the change you are making, who can help support you.
- Find strategies that help you with stress or boredom so that you don’t find yourself gambling.
- Create a diary for the week ahead so that you have a plan and can log where you are at.
Step 3 - find some different activities you enjoy, that can you give you purpose.
- Try a new sport or craft activity.
- Catching up with friends.
- Walking on the beach or along a river.
- Cooking nice meals.
- Tackling the house work it can give you a great sense of satisfaction.
Why not allocate some enjoyable activities in your diary so you have a plan of action.
For other ideas check these change strategies.
Support is important
Support is very important when starting to make a change, why not reach out to someone you trust or a professional trained to help people trying to change their gambling.
Remember lapses are normal and can happen at any time when you are trying to stop gambling. Its normal to have a few setbacks as you make the commitment to change your behaviour. Use these setbacks as learning to help make you stronger for the next time you are feeling vulnerable to gamble.
If you would like to speak to a gambling counsellor about this, or if you have any questions about accessing free, face to face counselling have a chat with one of our counsellors.