Problem gambling is gambling to the extent that it causes emotional, family, legal, financial or other problems for the gambler and the people around the gambler. Problem gambling can get worse over time, and gambling problems can range from mild to severe.
If gambling is affecting your life and you are thinking about change, you’ve already taken the first step. This guide will help you understand gambling, figure out if you need to change, and decide how to deal with the actual process of change.
The first step of your journey is to figure out if you need or want to change.
Try to answer the following questions:
1. Have you often gambled longer than you had planned? Yes____ No____
2. Have you often gambled until your last money was gone? Yes____ No____
3. Have thoughts of gambling caused you to lose sleep? Yes____ No____
4. Have you used your income or savings to gamble while letting bills go unpaid? Yes____ No____
5. Have you made repeated, unsuccessful attempts to stop gambling? Yes____ No____
6. Have you broken the law or considered breaking the law to pay for your gambling? Yes____ No____
7. Have you borrowed money to pay for your gambling? Yes____ No____
8. Have you felt depressed or suicidal because of your gambling losses? Yes____ No____
9. Have you been remorseful after gambling? Yes____ No____
10. Have you ever gambled to get money to meet your financial obligations? Yes____ No____
If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, then you may want to consider making a change.
Understanding how gambling works and the dangers that are associated with gambling is an important step in your journey. Complete the questions below to see if you should examine your gambling patterns more closely:
1. Have you ever tried to cut down on your gambling? Yes____ No____
2. Are others annoyed by your gambling? Yes____ No____
3. Do you ever gamble alone? Yes____ No____
4. Do you ever feel guilty about your gambling? Yes____ No____
5. Do you ever gamble to feel better? Yes____ No____
If you answered “yes” to one or more questions, then you may want to consider looking at your gambling more closely. Many people are not aware of all the ways that gambling can affect their lives.
SOMETHING TO THINK ABOUT
Some people simply cut down on gambling, while others try to stop completely.
Research suggests that cutting down on gambling can be a goal.
However, a lot of people find that just cutting back on gambling is a difficult goal to keep because it can easily lead back to problem gambling.
If reducing your gambling is too hard for you, you may choose to stop gambling completely. Obviously, neither option will be easy, but just reducing your gambling might be more risky.
It might also help to try some of the following:
- Attend self–help meetings such as Gamblers Anonymous
- Avoid going in or near places where gambling is available.
- Spend less time with people who gamble to avoid being pressured into gambling.
- Carry only the minimum amount of money that you need for the day.
- Have your paycheck direct deposited into a bank account.
- Destroy your credit, debit, and ATM cards.
“What if it’s my turn to win?”
Sometimes people who gamble tend to think that eventually it will be their turn to win, but it’s probably not. Here’s why: gambling is based on chance, probability, and randomness. If you have a 50-50 chance at winning a game, it doesn’t matter how many times you have won or lost in the past.
The next time you play, your chances of winning are still 50-50.
“What can I do to handle an urge to gamble?”
Urges are normal for a person who is reducing the amount that they gamble. Urges are often very difficult to deal with, but with practice you will be able to let these feelings pass without giving in to them. You might notice that after stopping or cutting back your gambling you get more urges to gamble than you did before.
This is normal. What’s important is that you recognize that these urges are temporary and they will pass.
Here are a few suggestions. Focus on doing other things. Replace the things in your life that you associate with gambling with other activities that will help to keep your mind off gambling. Find new enjoyable ways to spend your time. Most importantly, think about the things that you liked to do before gambling became a part of your life.
Self-help for gambling problems;
Bettors Anonymous – www.bettorsanonymous.org
Debtors Anonymous – www.debtorsanonymous.org
Gam-Anon, for family and friends of gamblers – www.gam-anon.org
Gamblers Anonymous – www.gamblersanonymous.org