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How to manage pay day gambling urges

By: Georgia Ashworth (Clinical Psychology Registrar) & Dr Anastasia Hronis (Clinical Psychologist)

We all know the feeling of payday. It’s the day we might treat ourselves to an extra coffee, buy that new item we’ve been eyeing off, or put money towards a trip we’ve been planning. However, when struggling with gambling, payday can be difficult. It might mean mixed emotions, strong urges, and ultimately a higher chance of relapse. Below are a few strategies that might help to make payday easier to manage.

Allocating Money

Accessibility is a major risk factor for gambling. The easier it is to access gambling, the easier it may be for some people to relapse. If having access to money is a risk to your gambling recovery, consider where your money is going once it hits your account.

  • Do you have trusted family or friends that could control a portion of your money?
  • Are you able to set up an account without withdrawal access?
  • Can your pay be direct debited into these controlled accounts?
  • Can you remove access to cards?

Limiting access is the best place to start as the stronger these limits are, the easier it can make it to resist the urge to gamble.

Delay, Distract, Decide

Urges are more likely to occur on pay day. Fortunately, they pass, generally within 30 - 60 minutes. However, when experiencing an intense urge, it can feel like it’s never going to end. A strategy to manage the time for an urge to pass is the Delay, Distract, Decide, or DDD strategy.

1. Delay

When you notice the urge to gamble, emotions are heightened, which is not the best time to make a decision. Rather than deciding whether or not to gamble, make the choice to delay the decision of whether or not to gamble. Do this by setting a timer for 5, 10, or 30 minutes.

2. Distract

During this time, do something that will keep you distracted. Choosing something physical like going for a walk, or doing a hobby will help to use up energy from the urge

3. Decide

After the set time, evaluate your decision using reminders as to why you’re trying to stop or reduce gambling, and how this aligns with your goals. If the urge remains and you worry you’ll make the decision to gamble, repeat the process.

Setting Financial Goals

We’re more likely to achieve something if we have a specific and realistic goal in mind that is of importance. Try setting financial goals each payday that are achievable. An example might be putting $100 into a non-accessible savings account. When setting a goal, ensure that you are 90% confident that you can achieve it. If you’re not, then the goal is too big and should be reevaluated. Start small with your goals, and build on them over time. You could also try these Money Management tips.

If you are struggling with gambling, it's important to know that you are not alone and that help is available. For more support on this topic or any gambling issue, call Gambler’s Help on 1800 858 858 or visit our Find Support page for more options.


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