Restrictions on restaurants, pubs and gaming venues are beginning to ease across the country. Some people are understandably welcoming this news, but at Gambling Help Online we know that the restrictions have helped many people stop gambling — and now they want to stay stopped. We have some tips to help.
Online, in the papers and news reports, people have told their stories of a life improved while the venues have been closed. We’ve been hearing those stories from callers, too, and they are wonderful.
We’ve also heard that while the venues are closed, some people have experienced an increase in online gambling. The online gambling space is risky and some people may be looking for a way out — our strategies can help you too!
1. This too shall pass
Remind yourself: the urge to gamble will pass.
The urge is uncomfortable, but it doesn’t last forever. Endure your discomfort and delay acting on the urge by distracting yourself with a different task or activity. Go for a walk, or do some exercise. Call a friend or your local Gambling Help service on 1800 858 858. Something to take your attention away from the urge.
If you don’t give in to your urges, over time you will find that they aren’t as powerful.
2. Identify your triggers
What are your “high risk” situations for gambling? Make plans for those times.
If you gamble out of boredom, what else can you do? If you gamble to manage stress, have you looked at better ways of managing it, such as mindfulness, meditation, or making changes to your work routine? If you gamble because of financial worries, we can put you in touch with a financial counsellor.
3. Look back
If you’ve managed to stop gambling because of the restrictions, think about what your life has looked like during that time. How have you managed without gambling? Do more of what has been helpful.
If you’ve taken up online gambling during the outbreak, think back on what your life was like before. What will you be able to resume when restrictions have eased? What kind of activities are you looking forward to? There are probably now ways you can resume them while still practicing social distancing.
4. Protect your money
Make plans to protect your money from gambling. There are many ways of doing this. You might join an exclusion program, download a blocking app, or set up restrictions on your account with your bank. You might even consider reaching out to a friend to ask for help to manage your money.
You managed without gambling before. You have strengths to help you stop now.
It might not be a legal requirement anymore, but it’s ok to #stayathome a little longer if you want to.
If you know you’re going to be tempted to gamble if you visit the local pub, don’t go there! It’s ok to tell your friends no if they ask you out for a drink. If your regular venue is next to your usual supermarket, it’s ok to go to the supermarket a little further away. You don’t have to rely on willpower alone to resist the urge. Give your willpower a little boost by steering clear of tempting venues until you’ve got your urges under control.
6. Reject shame
We know that many people feel shame about admitting they are struggling with gambling. Don’t let shame prevent you from seeking help. The truth is, everybody needs help sometimes. You deserve a hand to get through this rough spot.
If shame prevented you from talking in the past, perhaps it is time to share your story of stopping — or trying to stop. If shame is preventing you from talking about your current problem, perhaps the place to start your journey to stopping is online.
If you’re not ready to talk yet, we have a range of self-help materials available. Most people start their journey with self-help.
If you’re on this journey, every step you take to help yourself get better should be a source of pride, even the smallest ones.