Seeking help for problem gambling and gambling addiction
If you live with a gambling problem, it might seem like there is no way out and might feel hopeless. However, it’s important to know that there is help out there and that, like other addictions, you can get better. These include:
- Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT)
CBT is a type of talking therapy that can help you understand your gambling, your thought processes, and how to combat them through proven techniques. CBT can help you to learn strategies to reduce your opportunities to gamble, manage your cravings and triggers, and challenge some of your gambling-related thoughts. For more on how CBT can help with gambling addiction, visit Royal College of Psychiatrists.
- 12-Step programs
Support groups such as Gamblers Anonymous can help in the way as other 12-step programs, such as Alcoholics Anonymous.
Medication can help you manage your gambling addiction, any related conditions such as depression or bipolar disorder, and any other stressors that may be feeding it.
There are other ways you can change your behaviour around gambling that can have a positive benefit. These are usually self-directed, though you may hear about them through a 12-step program or through a support worker. If you need help implementing them, a friend, family member, or support worker might be able to assist you. Here are a few things you can try:
Reach out to support services or people you trust
Problem gambling and gambling addiction can be an isolating experience, often making us feel shameful or guilty for our habits. However, it’s important to reach out to someone you trust, such as a friend, family member, or professional. You can even call the National Gambling Helpline on 0808 8020 113 for confidential information, advice, and support, free of charge. They operate every day of the year, 24 hours a day, and can help you to talk through your options.
Self-exclusion by GAMSTOP is a way of blocking yourself from gambling websites. GAMSTOP.co.uk is a free service for anyone resident within the United Kingdom. When you sign up for the service, you will be prevented from using gambling websites and apps run by companies licensed in the United Kingdom for a period of six months, one year, or five years depending on the option chosen. It will also block marketing messages from gambling firms. More details can be found on GAMSTOP’s website.
GamCare has a list of blocking apps and plugins that are compatible with most devices, and the Gambling Commission has a list of banks which offer the ability to limit or block your spending on gambling.
Some other options include:
- The Bingo Industry Self-Exclusion Scheme allows people to self-exclude from bingo halls in the UK. You can also speak to the manager at your local bingo hall.
- The National Lottery offers ways to control your gambling, including limiting your spending and play, session reminders, and keeping track of or pausing your play.
- Multi-Operator Self-Exclusion Service (MOSES), Tel: 0800 294 2060 – MOSES allows people to self-exclude from betting shops across Great Britain.
- Self Enrolment National Self Exclusion scheme (SENSE) – SENSE allows people to self-exclude from casinos in the UK. You can also speak to the manager at your local casino.
Set personal limits
Set a limit on how much you’re willing to spend in a session before you start, and stick to it. If you’re gambling in person, you can ask your bank to set withdrawal limits or leave credit or debit cards at home.
Set in-app limits
Many gambling companies offer limited in-app controls, limiting the amount of money you can spend on gambling. While this isn’t as strong as self-exclusion, it can help to reduce how much you’re gambling and ensure you’re able to cover the costs of your bills.
Setting a budget
Setting a budget can help to reduce problem gambling. Using a budget planner, you can ensure you’re able to cover essential bills such as energy and housing costs and set aside a set amount of funds for gambling. You should also aim to pay any outstanding bills on payday or make sure bills are paid before you begin a gambling session.
Many banks now offer “jam jar accounts” allowing customers to divide their money for separate purchases or requirements, meaning you can separate money dedicated for online gambling if you wish. Budgeting apps like Touco also allow you to set up alerts to help control your finances.
Look into ways you can block adverts for gambling websites. BeGambleAware has a list of ways you can block ads on various social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter. You can also read the Gambling Commission’s advice on blocking gambling ads on YouTube.
Avoid gambling when you’re upset, stressed, or emotional
While many people use gambling to escape from worries or stress, it’s important to try to resist the urge to gamble as a coping mechanism as this can feed the addiction. HelpGuide has an excellent list of ways to avoid gambling urges when stressed or anxious, such as relaxation exercises. If you find you’re depressed, anxious, or stressed and it’s affecting your quality of life, reach out to your GP for information on mental illness and how to seek help.
Don’t view gambling as a way to make money
Remember that gambling is a form of entertainment and not a reliable way to make money. Any money you do win will happen by chance, so it’s important to be prepared to lose.
Spend time doing other activities
Fill the time you would otherwise spend gambling with activities such as seeing friends and family. You might consider taking up a new hobby or returning to an old hobby you used to enjoy before gambling. It might also help to share your gambling experience with the friends you’re going to spend time with so that they know and understand what you’re going through.
In addition to the treatments above, the following resources may help you with problem gambling or gambling addiction and managing your finances.
- Money Advice Service: Tackling problem gambling and debt
- Mental Health and Money Toolkit
- Dealing with money problems during the cost-of-living crisis
GamCare is the leading provider of information, advice and support for anyone affected by gambling harms.
You can contact them via telephone, live chat, WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, and more.
Tel: 0808 8020 133
We provide information to help people make informed decisions about their gambling. We will help you to find out more about gambling and what safer gambling means, to understand and recognise the risks of gambling, and show you where to go for further information, help and support should you need it.
Tel: 0808 8020 133
Gamblers Anonymous is a fellowship of men and women who share their experience, strength and hope with each other so that they may solve their common problem and help others do the same.
This site offers various aids for the compulsive gambler including a forum, a chat room, literature and most importantly a meeting finder.
Meetings are the core of Gamblers Anonymous and we have meetings every day of the week throughout England, Wales and Ulster.
Tel: 0330 094 0322