Whether you’re playing a game of bingo, a fruit machine or betting on a football match, gambling is an activity where you risk money or other valuables. Gambling can be a fun way to pass the time but it’s also a serious problem that can affect your physical and mental health, your relationships and performance at work or study, get you into trouble with the law and leave you in debt and potentially homeless.
How can I reduce my gambling?
There are several ways to stop gambling and improve your mental wellbeing. The first step is to understand how gambling affects your life. It can cause stress, anxiety and depression. If your gambling becomes a problem, you can ask for help and support to change your habits.
The second way is to find out what’s causing your gambling urges and take steps to avoid them. This could involve getting rid of your credit cards, putting someone else in charge of your money, closing online betting accounts, keeping a limited amount of cash on you and not gambling with disposable income.
You might also want to consider talking to a specialist about your problems with gambling. They can offer you a self-assessment tool to help you see how your behaviour is impacting on your life and provide advice and support if you’re struggling with gambling.
Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) can be an effective treatment for many addictions, including gambling. It can help you change how you think about betting and stop using certain rituals or coping strategies to deal with losing streaks or to win back your losses.
Changing your mindset and taking up healthier alternatives to gambling can be one of the best ways to improve your mental health. For example, if you gamble when you’re feeling lonely or bored, try to learn to relieve these feelings in other ways, such as exercise, spending time with friends who don’t gamble, or practicing relaxation techniques.
If you’re worried about your gambling or the gambling of someone close to you, ask for support from a charity such as GamCare. These charities can help you with counselling and support, and may provide referrals to services that specialise in treating problem gambling.
What are the signs of a gambling problem?
A gambling problem is when you have a regular pattern of gambling that causes significant problems. This might include not being able to control your gambling, having difficulties stopping or cutting down on it and having frequent thoughts about gambling.
There are also signs that your gambling might be causing harm to other people. For instance, if you lose a lot of money or have been missing payments to your creditors, you should consider speaking to your bank or financial advisor. If you have a family member who has a gambling problem, ask them to talk to their doctor and seek support from your local mental health service.
Some people with a gambling problem have a tendency to lose large amounts of money and find it difficult to cut down or stop. This is referred to as compulsive gambling. It can be treated with counselling and other treatments such as cognitive behavioural therapy.