“Another Tenner Won’t Hurt” – How to Curb Compulsive Gambling

Sometimes our gambling habit gets out of hand. If you pay attention, you’ll know when you’re slipping down that slope because you’ll start your session with good intentions: “This time, I’m only going to spend a tenner.” And it’s gone in under 5-minutes. It feels like a waste of time and money, so you think, “Another tenner won’t hurt”. Before you know it, you’ve spent all your money.

Is there a way to curb this? It depends. To get the most out of this article, you have to be honest with yourself. If you recognise yourself in the first section, it could be time to seek help.

But if this is a problem that arises now and again, and doesn’t have a big impact, then read on to the following sections.

 

Gambling Addiction

OK, so unfortunately for some of you, compulsive gambling can be a sign that you have a gambling addiction.

The Royal College of Psychiatrists (Rcpsych) defines gambling addiction as, “gambling that disrupts or damages personal, family or recreational pursuits.”

If you’re gambling to the point that it’s damaging your relationships and affecting your ability to maintain financial responsibilities, then it’s time to seek professional help.

The NHS can help you. Their gambling addiction page has plenty of helpful information.

Fortunately, according to the Rcpsych, roughly 9 in 1000 gamblers experience a problem, but 70 in 1000 gamble to risky levels that could become a problem in the future. The information below is to help those of you who fall into this latter category to manage and minimise the risks.

 

Curb Compulsive Gambling: Pay Attention to Your Gambling Habits

Before you can do anything about a problem, you have to realise you have a problem. This means being honest and looking at your spending habits. Are you spending so much money on your gambling habit that you’re failing to pay bills? If so, read section one again. If not, are you losing out on money that you would otherwise spend having fun? Do you regret the money you spend?

If you’re unsure about how much you’re spending, start keeping a diary so that you can track exactly how much you’re spending. It might not be causing you a problem, but when you look over your spending, you might want to make changes.

 

Curb Compulsive Gambling: Change Your Thoughts on Gambling

Sometimes gambling becomes a problem because people view it as a means to an end, usually as a way to make money.

Surely, we don’t have to tell you by now that the house always wins. If you want to make money in a similar way to gambling, then you might want to try investing in shares. Again, there’s no guarantee of gaining money, but in low risk, long-term, investments, you can easily come out on top.

If you view your gambling habit as anything other than fun, it’s time to change your thinking. Sure, there are strategies that could potentially help you win, but at best, they will give you an edge – they won’t guarantee you a win.

In other words, don’t gamble on gambling strategies. If you happen to stumble on a strategy that works, you’re likely to find yourself banned from the casino, like Don Johnson. He hasn’t revealed his secret but he must have one because he beat the house more times than the odds allow.

See gambling as a pastime, like going to the cinema or a restaurant. Set a budget and don’t expect to get any money back.

 

Curb Compulsive Gambling: Meditate

One of the reasons people have compulsions is that they act impulsively on their emotions. They have a thought and they follow through unquestioningly. A trick to help avoid this is to put space between you and your emotions by watching them. That means becoming aware of the emotion and realising that you’re experiencing it.

Meditation is a great way to do this. There’s evidence that it strengthens various areas in your brain responsible for impulsivity and compulsions, such as the hippocampus and frontal lobes.

There are plenty of free courses out there, or you can choose to pay for a service like Headspace or Calm. Both are great.

You won’t see results instantly, but over time, in my experience, they happen.

 

Curb Compulsive Gambling: Set Limits

A great way to curb any sort of compulsive tendency is to remove triggers and temptations. With a serious addiction, you can contact your mobile phone and broadband companies and they will block sites for you. This will remove most of the temptation straightaway.

But that only works for online gambling. If you want to remove temptations from the real world, then you’ll have to set limits yourself. For example, when visiting a casino, only bring money that you can safely afford to lose. Don’t bring all your credit cards and debit cards with you. Cash is a great way to manage the problem because people tend to spend less when handling real money.

If you do play the online casinos, you can always set limits with them. Many of the UK-based casinos allow you to set limits and won’t allow changes for at least 24-hours, which often means your compulsions disappear by the time the limit resets.

 

Takeaway

When it comes to compulsive gambling, you need to have an honest conversation with yourself to determine if it’s something you can manage alone. If you think that you can curb compulsive gambling, then implement the methods above, but make sure that you keep track of how well they’re working.

A picture of a man sat alone with a screen in front of him - he's addicted.