Are you worried that your gambling gets out of control when you drink, or do you drink more when you gamble?
Gambling and drinking are legal in Australia and, for many people, go together as a way to socialise. Here are signs to look out for if you are concerned about your drinking and gambling and some ways to make a change.
How they go together
For some people having a drink and a play on the pokies or placing a bet may just be a part of a night out with friends. But for many others, both gambling and alcohol consumption can become a problem.
Some people find there is a connection between the effects of alcohol and what happens when they gamble. This may mean they:
- Tend to drink more
- Spend more money gambling
- Stay at the venue for longer than intended
- Experience other changes in mood and behaviour as a consequence of drinking and gambling.
For some, alcohol can play a role in affecting a person's capacity to control their gambling. For example one of our clients said:
"After a few drinks it all seemed good but I felt really bad when I realised that all of my pay was gone. I'm going to have to borrow money again this week" Male, 27.
Losing track of time and money?
Many people say that they like to have "a few drinks" when they are gambling, which isn't surprising given that gambling establishments are usually in places that also serve alcohol, i.e. pokies and TAB.
Research suggests that there is a relationship between alcohol and riskier styles of gambling, particularly among regular or problem gamblers.
Some people even think think it is the alcohol that "triggers" them to gamble more than they can afford to lose. Alcohol can also make it more difficult to stop gambling as inhibitions are lowered.
When is it a problem?
If you find your control is slipping and that you can no longer just walk away it may be time to make some changes.
Both of these activities can make you feel good at first and some people enjoy the feelings of "escape" - but the consequences can be damaging.
Signs of alcohol being a problem may include:
- Drinking far more than intended
- Experiencing behavioural changes related to drinking such as getting into arguments with people
- Experiencing blackouts or memory loss
- Problems in relationships as a result of drinking
- Feeling the need to drink on a daily basis
- Binge drinking
- Taking time off from work, study or other commitments because of being hung over.
If you think this is a problem for you it may help to:
- Write down how much and how often you drink? This will give you a sense of how much you are drinking.
- Read about alcohol and other drug support options available at Counselling Online
- Enlist some support. Talking to a counsellor may help you explore some options and work out what you want to do. There are a range of services and different types of help available and it is important to find out what will work best for you.
- Read our peer support forum's Q&A with Dr Jane Oakes on the relationship between alcohol and gambling.
Read about the other impacts gambling can have on your health: