Jamie is 26 years old and lost $6000 in the last two weeks. He reached out to Gambling Help Online for help. His is a story we hear too often.
Until two weeks ago, Jamie had stopped gambling. He’d signed up for a self-exclusion period to help him resist the urge.
Two weeks ago, he received an email from a gambling provider letting him know that his self-exclusion period was over. This extremely “helpful” message included an inducement to return to gambling: the company offered to double any money he deposited in his account.
The gambling company spent almost nothing on this email. It cost Jamie $6000.
Jamie admits he did not take the inducement to return to gambling lightly. He took a few days to consider if he should take up the offer. He thought he would be able to control his gambling — after all, he’d been able to stop for the past six months. He decided he would be able to withdraw his money and keep the ‘gift’ from the gambling company.
These are permission-giving thoughts, and they can get us in a lot of trouble.
What are permission-giving thoughts?
Permission-giving thoughts are the reassurances, reasons or excuses we give ourselves to do something we know is going to be bad for us.
Some examples are below. What do you think Jamie said to himself? Do you recognise yourself in any of the following statements?
- I’ll just spend $50.
- I will just have one more flutter before I stop.
- I have more control now.
- When I win, I will be able to pay off those debts.
- I’ll just drive by the venue to see if my friends are there.
- I’ll just have a drink with my friends (who gamble) and won’t gamble.
- One bet won’t hurt.
How do you stop yourself from giving in to permission-giving thoughts?
Counsellors recommend that you develop a series of statements or thoughts that rebut these permission giving thoughts. They call it ‘getting your thinking straight.’
- Remind yourself what happened last time — you said you would only spend $50 but did you?
- Remind yourself of the reasons you decided to give up gambling in the first place: I need to be able to pay for my rent or my family really went without last time.
- Think about how often you actually were in front before you stopped gambling. Did you actually win or are you just remembering the wins and forgetting the losses? Keep a diary of your spend and your wins so you can see clearly if you are winning.
- Know that your past gambling has affected how your brain works. You may need time for your brain to alter back to a natural state.
- Consider if gambling should ever be part of your life again — has it really given you more than it has taken away?
What else can you do?
- Write down your rebuttal statements so you’ve got something to look at whenever you’re trying to surf the urge.
- Rejoin self-exclusion programs or put a permanent block in place by paying for apps such as Gamban or Gamblock. Learn more about self-exclusion systems.
- Contact your bank and ask them if they can help you block gambling transactions.
- Learn new ways to relieve your stress or boredom if these are your gambling triggers — finding a new hobby is a great place to start.
- Think about when you have gambled in the past and make a plan for those times — for example, if you usually gamble on payday, make plans with a friend as a distraction.
- Reach out for support. If you’d like to chat, we’re here 24/7 — free and confidential. Chat to us online or at 1800 858 858. You can also check out our peer support forums.
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