For many people, gambling is a pleasurable recreational activity. Yet gambling can cause major disruption in people’s lives and the lives of their partners, families and friends. When gambling behaviour becomes problematic, it is important to seek suitable help and regain control before further damage is done.
The latest research on problem gambling suggests that the problem is widespread. Seventy percent of the Australian population gambles at least once a year; 500, 000 have an issue with problem gambling, and only 15% of those problem gamblers seek help. Given that the behaviour of a problem gambler adversely affects between 5 to 10 people in their network, that’s 5 million Australians who carry the burden of problem gambling from year to year.
If your gambling feels like it is getting out of control, it is vital that you be honest with people whom you trust about the full extent of your gambling behaviour. This may include disclosing where you gamble, when you gamble and how much money you have lost through gambling. Think about the help you need to address your problem gambling, and ask those people talked to if they are willing to provide it. By being honest with friends and family, you are creating an authentic support network to assist you to regain control of your gambling behaviour.
Think carefully about the difficulties you were facing at the time when your gambling behaviour intensified, and take time to share your feelings about these issues with someone. If gambling has been a way of avoiding these difficulties, it is important that you learn an alternative way of dealing with them. You may find that you need to grieve, problem solve, resolve a relationship or make a new start in some area of your life. It is likely that you will find it much easier to resist gambling once you have addressed any underlying problems.
By being honest with yourself and your support network about the extent of your gambling behaviour, and attending professional counselling designed to address the underlying issues and factors that triggered your problem gambling, recovery from problem gambling is possible. It may feel risky to admit you that have a problem and seek help, but the joy of knowing that you’re in control of your behaviour again is well worth the gamble.
Please feel free to contact Life Supports on 1300 735 030 if you would like to discuss your situation with a professional counsellor.
Marcus Andrews is the founder and director of Life Supports, which was established in 2002. He has extensive professional experience working as a counsellor and family therapist across a broad range of issues. The core component of his role at Life Supports involves the supervision of other counsellors, including secondary consultations. Marcus has worked in many sectors, including private, government, non-profit, health, forensic and community practice.