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Do-it-yourself tools to fight the gambling urge

The COVID-19 restrictions are causing uncertainty about jobs, health and being out in public. Many people are feeling anxious and isolated. But some people who usually gamble on pokies at venues, clubs, TABs and casinos or bet on sport are feeling huge relief.

Does that sound like you?

With gambling venues closed and limited sports betting, do you:

  • feel a weight is lifted off your shoulders
  • remember the person you were before gambling took over
  • have money to spend on other things
  • have time to enjoy other activities, even with the current limitations?

As restrictions ease, it’s important to remind yourself that you already have all the tools you need to help you manage your gambling urges. Maybe you haven’t used them for a while or forgotten you had them.

These tools can help you stay in control of your gambling or quit for good.

You can do it yourself.

  • Right now, when you can't gamble, note down three positive things about how you feel. Keep these somewhere safe such as in Notes on your phone.
  • When the gambling urge comes up, read the notes back to yourself.
  • Plan ahead – if an opportunity to gamble on a particular event or at a specific time is coming up, make plans to do something else instead.
  • Keep busy.
  • If you feel the urge to return to a venue, close your eyes and think about the name or branding of the venue. Now think about the name or branding of something you don't like. It could be a type of food or shop you don't like. Do this back and forwards for a few minutes and repeat it each time you feel the gambling urge.
  • This is you taking control of a pathway you created in your mind and turning it into a road leading out.
  • Think about winding the car window down and getting far away to a favourite place.
  • People often think they’re gambling to relieve stress. But gambling and losing can actually cause much more stress. Even 15 minutes of physical exercise a day can reduce your stress levels.
  • Helping other people with their troubles can have a huge positive effect on the way you see yourself and on your sense of worth. You could volunteer for a cause you’re passionate about or look around and see someone close to you who needs a hand.
  • If you feel the gambling urge and you know someone else who also struggles with gambling, reach out to ask if they need help. Let them know that you are going through the same experience. Helping someone else can turn the urge on its head.

Whatever you call it: the gambling urge; the itch; the bug; the addiction. You can come up with a plan and beat it.

Want to talk through your plan?

Throughout the COVID-19 restrictions, Gambler’s Help services are available 24 hours a day on 1800 858 858. In some areas, video calls are also available.

  • You don’t need a referral to phone Gambler’s Help.
  • The information you share will be kept private.
  • Every single contact with Gambler’s Help is free.