Set limits on gambling
For those giving up gambling, the limit is obviously $0. For those cutting down, a limit should be set for each session of gambling. Ask yourself, how much can you afford to lose? You may need to work out a budget to know exactly how much you require for all of your ongoing commitments. A financial counsellor can help you to manage your debts and to draw up a budget. For more on financial counselling, click here
Keep track of your gambling
It is very hard to change any habit without keeping a record of what’s going on. You will only know if you have really cut down your gambling if you keep an accurate record. The occasional win can make it difficult to remember how much you actually wagered and lost. The ‘Gamblers Guide to Cutting Down or Giving Up’ is a self help guide where you can record your gambling behaviour and your urges when you are not gambling. It may be useful to look back at it at the end of each week and see when and where you were tempted to gamble, and what you did instead of gambling.
Find alternatives to gambling
It’s difficult to cut down or give up gambling unless you find other activities to fill the gap that is left in your life. These activities need to satisfy the needs you were meeting through gambling. If gambling gave you a sense of excitement or challenge, then look for another activity that will also you give you a buzz. If you found gambling relaxing, then find a relaxing replacement. You may need to experiment with a number of different activities until you find one or more of interest. Try your local council for groups, clubs and organisation or make a list yourself. It may help to discuss this with a family member or friend.
It is important to understand the things that pose a risk for you in your gambling and the situations that help you maintain control. High-risk triggers can tip you over into excessive gambling. High-risk triggers may include boredom, stress, loneliness, feeling lucky, having money on hand or passing a venue. Low-risk situations might include having a stable mood, limited access to cash, gambling with others and avoiding your favourite venues. Do you recognise any of these triggers or situations? Remember - there is someone at the Gambling Helpline waiting to help you.
Relationships often come under great strain because of excessive gambling. It is natural that family members and partners will want to know whether you are succeeding in cutting down or giving up gambling. They may find it difficult to trust you after the shock and disappointment of finding out about your past gambling losses. Share with them your successes and your lapses, and involve them in solving your problems. You may want to seek professional help on your own, or with your partner or family member. To find a gambling counsellor, click here
Reward your progress
Satisfaction at achieving your goal of not gambling or gambling less is a powerful reward in itself. But in the early stages of change, when the going is often tough, it can help to reward yourself for achieving your goals. Rewards can be things like going to the movies, dinner at a restaurant, new clothes or a weekend away.
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