Are you ready to do something about your gambling? If you have come to this page you may be ready to 'take back control'.
Here are some practical self-help tips to help gain control over what might feel like a downward spiral into a gambling addiction. Many people have been successful in overcoming gambling difficulties by working through their issues on their own.
Set yourself a limit and stick to it. If you're giving up gambling, the limit should be $0. If you're cutting down, set a limit for each session. How much can you afford to lose? You may need to work out a budget for all of your ongoing commitments. Seeing a financial counsellor can help to manage debts and create a budget.
Instead of chasing your losses, walk away. Never gamble with the expectation of winning. The odds are always with the venue so you can be sure that the longer you gamble, the more you will lose. Walk away and feel proud that you did! Read more on odds, myths and facts about gambling here.
Challenge your gambling thoughts and beliefs. Challenge thoughts such as 'I'm overdue for a big win', 'my luck must change', 'my favourite horse or machine is overdue to win/payout' or 'I can win by following a system or by skill'. If you believe you can win at gambling then it may be very difficult to cut down or give up. Find out more on how the pokies and other forms of gambling work.
Avoid high-risk situations. These may include any situations which can lead to gambling, such as having your ATM or credit cards with you, gambling on your own or mixing alcohol with gambling. Limit your access to cash and credit to prevent you from succumbing to the urge to gamble. It might be helpful to avoid carrying large amounts of money and socialising close to gambling venues. You could talk to someone you trust that can support you in avoiding high-risk situations.
Prepare for urges, triggers and lapses. Urges are normal, and lapses don't mean that you're a failure or that you have to continue gambling. If you feel the urge to gamble, distract yourself by talking to a friend or family member, or doing something like going to a movie or for a walk. This might also help you avoid high-risk triggers like boredom, stress, loneliness or grief. If you feel that you can't resist the urge, do a deal with yourself and postpone gambling for an hour or two or call the Gambling Helpline 1800 858 858 for a chat. It's natural to have a lapse – it doesn't mean you're a failure. The best way to cope with a lapse is to have a plan – calling a friend or family member, chatting with the Gambling Helpline 1800 858 858, or limiting access to money. The key to avoiding a lapse is remaining strong in your motivation and commitment to give up. Keep reminding yourself why you need to change.
Take a break from gambling. Find alternative forms of entertainment and enjoyment to stop you sitting at home pining for gambling. If you feel the urge to gamble, go for a walk around the block to clear your head.
Keep track of your gambling and your headspace. Keeping a record of your gambling can help keep track of whether you have cut down on gambling. The occasional win can make it difficult to remember how much you actually wagered and lost. Our self help guide (PDF 184.5 KB) can help you control your gambling and your urges when you're not gambling.
Attend a Self Help Group.Gamblers Anonymous offer meeting groups all over South Australia to help people overcome a gambling problem through by sharing experiences and providing mutual support.
Reward your progress. Achieving your goal of not gambling or gambling less is a powerful reward in itself. Thinking about how much money you have saved or not lost through gambling is a great reminder of how far you've come! Use our tool to work out how much you are now spending, or not as the case may be! Rewarding yourself for achieving your goals could be things like going to the movies, new clothes or taking the family on a weekend away.
If you ever need help with managing your gambling, there is support available.
For 24/7, free, professional and confidential help and advice, call the Gambling Helpline on 1800 858 858.
For face to face support with gambling and related issues visit a free and friendly Gambling Help Service.