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Gambling dreams

By: Dr Anastasia, Clinical Psychologist

Have you ever had a dream (or nightmare) that you were gambling? Or that you wanted to gamble? Or perhaps people around you were gambling, or you were in a familiar venue like a TAB or casino? A dream that felt so real, you woke up and had to check whether or not it happened?

If so, you’re not alone.

In fact, gambling dreams or “relapse dreams” are very common, especially in the early stages of trying to change your relationship with gambling. The good news is that the frequency of these dreams often tend to decrease with time.

Dreams are essentially a way in which the brain processes information and memories. While you dream, some parts of your brain are more active than others. The active parts are often those that process emotions, memories and sensations, while the parts responsible for logic and reasoning are often quieter. This is why dreams can often seem so realistic.

It’s important to remember that just because you’ve had a gambling dream, does not necessarily mean that you want to gamble. What’s more important than the dream itself, is how you deal with it afterwards.

Gambling dreams can be highly triggering for some people, and therefore make them a risk for relapse. If you’ve had a gambling dream and are feeling out of sorts, take some time after waking up to reset for the day ahead. Here are some suggestions for how to do this:

  • Take some time to ground yourself in the present moment. Mindfulness helps us anchor ourselves in the here and now. Take a few deep breaths and focus all your attention on your breathing. Use your senses to anchor yourself in the present moment by noticing your surroundings. Focus on what you can see, hear and feel in your environment.
  • Remind yourself that it was just a dream. It doesn’t necessarily have any meaning, other than that which we choose to give it. We can choose to give the dream no meaning at all.
  • Turn to a reading you find helpful. If you don’t have any of these, now might be a good time to plan ahead for triggering moments. Readings, prayers, affirmations, useful quotes, or any sort of helpful texts can be reassuring when we are triggered or having difficulty with our relationship to gambling.

For more support on this topic or any gambling issue you might want to talk about, call Gambler’s Help 1800 858 858.