For the month of May, Defying Shadows will be joining the Mental Health Awareness Month by sharing a post daily on a different type of Mental Illness or “Shadow” that people commonly struggle with. Join us in creating awareness and working to end the stigma that goes with these topics! Today we have Amanda sharing on Gambling. ~ Defying Shadows Team.
People can develop a problem with gambling for a whole host of reasons. Most people have spent money on gambling at some point in their life e.g buying a raffle ticket. Gambling can sometimes grow without a person realising how their gambling behaviours have changed. For many people it is an activity that they do simply to entertain themselves, and for others it can become a problem and have a negative impact on their quality of life. An individual who has developed a serious problem with gambling can spend up to 20 hours or more a week on gambling, and intern can also spend a lot of time thinking and worrying about their gambling.
Contributing Factors of Gambling
By the time gambling has become a problem it has often impacted on several areas of a person’s life. Signs of a problem can include:
- Increasing levels of debt
- Struggling to pay bills on time
- Lying to friends and family
- Feeling more moody, irritable or angry
- Missing work or having trouble concentrating at work
- Prioritising spending time and money on gambling rather than spending time with friends
- Thinking that continued gambling will fix financial problems
- Feeling like the gambler has taken over
How to change your habits
Once you become aware that you could be a Gambler, you may feel ashamed or guilty. Self-blame and self-harm can increase your stress and may urge you to gamble more. Instead, seek help so that you can change your life for the better. If gambling is causing problems in your life, there are many things you can do to stop it being an issue.
Below are some strategies to help:
- Keep a gambling diary – this will help you better understand your problem. Include the type of gambling, the time spent and the amount you gamble. Write down the thoughts, feelings and situations that occur before and during a gambling session, so you can start to understand the causes of gambling.
- Set goals – setting short-term and long-term goals may help you to stay focused and clear about cutting down or giving up your gambling.
- Avoid high-risk situations – such as the use of credit cards, taking out loans, carrying large amounts of money with you, using gaming venues for socialising, or gambling as a reaction to emotions. These behaviours will weaken your resolve to control or stop your gambling.
- Be kind to yourself – acknowledge your positive achievements. Write them down to remind yourself of your strengths and attributes.
- Find alternatives to gambling – many people continue gambling because they do not know what else to do with their spare time. Explore new activities and hobbies
There are many things you can do to prevent gambling problems building up and to get things under control from self-help strategies, to telephone counselling, online programs, peer support, or face-to-face therapy and treatments. These activities have worked well for many people:
- First of all – talk to someone you trust about your gambling. This will be a first step in finding the best way forward to cut down or stop
- Have a close friend as an ally who will check in with you and support you to stick to your plan
- See a financial counsellor to look at money going ‘in’ and ‘out’ so you can decide if the balance is right and get help to manage any debts
You’re not alone. Many people have overcome problems with gambling. The important thing is to do something now to make sure you stay in charge of your money, time and life.
Amanda Ogden is from Sydney Australia, and has spent the past 13 years working within the welfare industry in both administration and case management assisting people with mental health issues, mild intellectual disabilities, acquired brain injuries, drug & alcohol, homelessness gain employment. She also loves travelling, creating jewellery, music, friends and family.