Gambling is an activity where someone risks money or something of value in the hope of winning a prize. It can be anything from playing a card game, horse race or lottery to betting on business or sports.
It is not always easy to break the habit of gambling, especially if it has become a part of your lifestyle and family. However, it is possible to do so and you can learn how to overcome your problem.
The first step is to recognise that you have a problem. This may be easier if you talk to a professional counsellor or family member who won’t judge you. You should also try to get help for any underlying mood problems or other health issues that have triggered your gambling behaviour.
Make a list of your triggering situations and avoid them if you can. If you know that driving home after work sparks your gambling thoughts, for example, find another way home instead. If watching sports makes you want to gamble, consider watching a different sport.
Keep a gambling diary to record your gambling activities and the amount of money you have spent. This will help you identify your triggers and make it easier to break the habit.
Don’t go it alone – support from friends, family and others will make you more likely to succeed in breaking the habit. If you can, talk to a professional counsellor or family about your gambling habits and seek advice for coping with the consequences of your addiction.
Set short-term and long-term goals – this will help you to remain focused and clear about cutting down or giving up your gambling. It will also help you to stay in control of your impulses.
Be kind to yourself – this will help you to feel good about yourself and reinforce your resolve to stop gambling. Write down all your positive achievements and recognise the contributions you have made to your life – this can also be useful for keeping you motivated to make the change.
Find alternatives to gambling – this will help you to fill the gaps left by your gambling habit. This could be a new hobby, learning a skill or getting involved in a sports team.
Get financial support – this is particularly important if you’ve taken on debts or credit cards to fund your gambling. If you’re struggling with your finances, you need to take steps to improve them now so that it’s not too late to put them right and get back on track.
Use a support group or counsellor to cope with your gambling addiction – this can be helpful if you find it difficult to talk to friends and family about your problem. These groups are often run by people with similar experiences and can be a great source of support.
Ensure you’re not putting yourself or your family at risk by gambling – this can be done by checking your credit score and keeping your finances separate from those of the person who has an issue with gambling. If they’re linked to your finances, for example on a joint mortgage or rental agreement, you should take steps to ensure their payments are paid in full and on time.