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How to Break a Gambling Habit

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Gambling is an activity where people risk money or belongings with the intention of winning something else of value. In addition to the obvious financial gains, gambling can also have negative social and psychological effects. Some of these impacts are direct and tangible, while others are indirect. It is important to recognise and address these impacts when considering gambling-related harms.

The first step in breaking a gambling habit is admitting that you have one. This is often a difficult step for people, especially those who have gotten into debt or gone to extreme lengths to continue gambling (like hiding credit cards, lying to family and friends or even stealing). However, by doing this, you can take the first steps towards recovery.

Another way to help someone struggling with gambling is by offering emotional support. When you show empathy to them, it will make them feel safe opening up to you. If you are able to do this, it will give them the confidence to begin their recovery journey.

In addition to showing emotional support, you should consider having open conversations with the person about their addiction and encourage them to seek professional help. You can help them find a local support service by calling Gambler’s Help together on 1800 858 858.

Another important thing to do is to identify any triggers that may lead you to gamble. This can be anything from people, places or things that cause you to automatically want to gamble. For example, if your normal route to and from work goes past a casino, try taking an alternate route or changing the channel on your television when watching sports. Identifying these triggers will allow you to plan ahead and avoid them when possible, which will reduce your urges to gamble.

It is also important to set financial goals and stick to them. By allocating a percentage of your disposable income to gambling, you can ensure that the amount you spend on this activity is limited. This will also make it easier to track your spending and keep you from going into debt. It is essential to set realistic targets and not over-reach, as this will only create more pressure for you.

Finally, you should challenge negative thought patterns, such as the illusion of control, irrational beliefs and the gambler’s fallacy, which can lead to compulsive gambling. These unhealthy thinking habits can be reduced by learning coping skills, such as breathing and relaxation exercises, and through practicing mindfulness.

While there is a wealth of gambling research that focuses on individual behaviour, addiction and cognitive impairment, there is a growing body of literature exploring the wider social, economic and regulatory contexts that shape and influence gambling practices. Ideally, these studies should be integrated into more holistic policymaking and harm reduction strategies that consider the various elements of gambling practices in their totality. This will help to mitigate the negative impacts that gambling can have on individuals and society at large.

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