For many people gambling is a fun pastime but, for others, that fun doesn’t last long. It’s relatively easy to develop a gambling problem and not so hard to get out. Some people struggle to stop gambling, but you CAN overcome a gambling problem; you just need to know how.
You need the correct information and good support. In this article, we’re going to walk you through some of the things you can do to tackle a gambling problem and stop gambling.
Contact a Support Line/Group
The UK provides excellent support for people that develop a gambling addiction. Getting in touch with these places should be your first port-of-call.
Your GP is a good place to start. They’ll be able to direct you to services in your area that may be able to help. Alternatively, there are nation-wide organisations that specialise in problem gambling. They can also refer you to the National Problem Gambling Clinic if you live in England or Wales and are over 16.
Gamcare has a free telephone helpline and online chat support. There’s also plenty of information on their site that can help.
Gamblers Anonymous UK is a good place to contact if you want to find other people who understand and have experience with a gambling problem. They run local support groups throughout the UK
I’m aware that this could sound patronising or silly. If you knew how to stop gambling, you probably would. But my point is that, if you have a problem with gambling, the best thing to do is to try to find ways to stop gambling, not cutting back on spending nor trying to manage it in other ways, but to stop outright.
It’s one of the hardest ideas to get your head around when you have an addiction. There’s a strong calling to carry on and that makes the idea of quitting seem impossible…but it’s not.
Stopping gambling isn’t easy, but, below, we’ll look at some of the things that can help you quit.
Self-Exclude from Online and Offline Gambling Sites
Gambling establishments that operate in the UK must offer their customers the ability to self-exclude. This applies to both online and offline casinos.
Self-exclusion is a great way to put some distance between you and your gambling problem. Sites must exclude you for a set amount of time, so you can’t easily circumvent exclusion. This is a good thing because problem gamblers can often act impulsively and gamble on a whim – exclusion prevents this.
Make Yourself Accountable to Someone
Peer pressure is an excellent way to get people to modify their behaviour. Admitting to other people that you have a gambling problem can be a good way to add some much-needed peer pressure to your life.
Tell people whose opinions you respect and who you might feel embarrassed around if you continue to gamble.
Contact Your Creditors If You’re In Debt
Some of you will have racked up a lot of debt, and this can be problematic. It could end up costing you your home, your relationships, etc. So as soon as you can, get in contact with creditors and ask to make arrangements for paying off the debt.
The most important factor for most problem gamblers is interest rates. These can quickly take a manageable debt to unmanageable in a matter of months. Personally, interest rates of more than 25% should be illegal, but they’re not.
In the UK, creditors are under obligation to help people in financial distress to pay off their debts at a reasonable and affordable rate. It will wreck your credit score, but that’s much better than the depression that you’ll feel by letting things get out of control.
Consolidate Your Debt If You Can
If you can, it makes sense to consolidate all of your debt into one place with a lower interest rate. You might have to speak to a bank or credit card company. Having all your debt in one place at a low-interest rate will make it much easier to manage.
You must be careful here. Some people will take out loans to consolidate debt and then spend it all on gambling. If you think you’re at risk, choose one of your “accountable to” people to be there with you when you take on the debt and pay off your gambling debts. This way, you’re less likely to spend it on the very thing you’re trying to manage.
Tackle Underlying Causes
Gambling problems can often have an underlying cause, such as being unhappy at work or feeling undervalued in general. You must seek help to work out what the problem could be and to find healthier ways to cope.
Find a New Hobby
Finally, it makes sense to replace gambling a hobby. Competitive sports are a good way to get that same internal buzz you get from winning. You don’t have to be good at sports – there are teams for all levels of fitness. Yoga is a great hobby too; it helps your body and mind.
You don’t have to pick sports or exercise. There are thousands of hobbies out there for you to try.
With the right help and advice, you can stop gambling if it’s causing problems in your life. Gambling is supposed to be fun, but when it stops being fun, it’s time to stop gambling.