How to Stop Gambling

Gambling is the act of placing something of value (money, property or even your life) on the outcome of a game or contest with awareness of risk and in the hope of gain. It can range from the buying of lottery tickets or fruit machines to high-stakes gambling in casinos. Gambling is a significant contributor to the economic growth of many countries and provides employment to thousands of people. However, it can also have serious consequences for the gambler and those around them. It can damage relationships, health and work performance. It can impoverish families and lead to blackmail and organised crime. It can also cause debt, bankruptcy and even suicide.

It’s important to recognise when your gambling is out of control and take action. The first step is admitting that you have a problem and making a conscious decision to change your ways. If you are struggling, you can seek help from a number of organisations that offer support, advice and counselling for people affected by gambling.

Identify the situations and people that trigger your urge to gamble. For example, you may find that you are more likely to gamble when you’re bored or lonely. You might also be triggered to gamble after a difficult relationship or job loss. Try to avoid these triggers or reduce your exposure to them as much as possible.

If you’re trying to cut back on your gambling, make a budget and stick to it. Only gamble with money that you can afford to lose and never use money that needs to be saved for bills or rent. Also, don’t use gambling venues to socialise or as an escape from reality – instead, find alternative recreational activities that you enjoy.

Practice mindfulness and relaxation techniques, such as meditation and breathing exercises. These activities can help you manage your moods and impulses, and will benefit your mental and physical health.

Talk to someone you trust about your gambling addiction – it’s often easier to admit your problems to others than it is to yourself. You could speak to a friend, family member or a professional counsellor.

Learn to cope with unpleasant feelings in healthier ways – rather than gambling, try exercising, spending time with friends who don’t gamble, or taking up a new hobby. You can also try a variety of different relaxation techniques, such as mindfulness and progressive muscle relaxation. These methods can help you combat depression and anxiety, both of which can trigger gambling behaviours. They can also improve your ability to focus and calm yourself down when you’re feeling impulsive.