Thinking about change?

Thinking about changing your gambling can be scary, especially if it has become a big part of your life for a long time. But it is possible to change your gambling and get help if gambling has become a problem. You may be concerned that you are spending too much time and money on gambling. At the same time you may also be unsure whether you want to stop or reduce your gambling.

Or perhaps you are at a stage where you are ready to take control of your gambling. You may feel ready to control or stop gambling, and may have even made a decision to do something about it. Now is a good opportunity to consider your personal reasons for change and the possible risks of not changing.

Click here to get the information and help you need for every stage of your journey.

Stages of changei

The way you think about gambling and change can differ from day-to-day or even minute-to-minute. Sometimes people that gamble say "I'm never going to gamble again" and then end up gambling again the next day. This is normal when you try to make an important change. Why?

Change is a process that has a number of stages. People move back and forth between stages depending on their readiness to change. It can be helpful to understand these stages, and the way that people who want to change their gambling move from one stage to the next. Typical stages are:

step1

01

NO PROBLEM

At this stage, you have no plans to do anything differently. You enjoy your gambling and don’t think that there is a problem.

step2

02

THINKING ABOUT CHANGE

You're starting to recognise that there may be a problem with your gambling. But you're in two minds. The thought of stopping gambling causes you to feel a sense of loss. At the same time you think about the positives of gaining control of your gambling.

Information and strategies can be helpful at this stage. To understand more about your own or someone else’s gambling check out:

Check your gambling

Signs of problem gambling

step3

03

GETTING READY

At this stage, people are ready to accept there is a problem with their gambling, and they need to prepare to take some action.

Plans will be made with a view to making the required change soon. An example would be taking a problem gambling self-assessment quiz (Check your gambling) or finding out details of your local Gambling Help service.

If you recognise yourself or someone you know at this stage, let us help you.

step4

04

TAKING ACTION

People at this stage are taking action to change their gambling behaviours.

An example would be keeping busy, or replacing gambling with healthy behaviours like exercise or fishing. Seeking social support from friends and family is another example of taking action.

At this stage, rewarding yourself for the positive changes made to your gambling is important in order to stay motivated.  If you recognise yourself or someone you know at this stage let us help you. You can also take a look at these self-help strategies which others have found to be helpful:

Changing thoughts and beliefs

Focussing on health and wellbeing

Learning about triggers and urges

Keeping busy

step5

05

MAINTAINING
CHANGE

By this stage, people are working to maintain any changes in their gambling behaviours, and to prevent going back to old unhelpful habits. Gambling is now seen as no longer desirable and a number of coping and self-help strategies have been put in place and are working.

Practice is required to maintain the changes so that the new behaviours can be turned into habits.

If you recognise yourself or someone you know at this stage, it might help to review the following:

Let us help you

Changing thoughts and beliefs

Focussing on health and wellbeing

Learning about triggers and urges

Managing money

At this stage, you have no plans to do anything differently. You enjoy your gambling and don’t think that there is a problem.

You're starting to recognise that there may be a problem with your gambling. But you're in two minds. The thought of stopping gambling causes you to feel a sense of loss. At the same time you think about the positives of gaining control of your gambling.

Information and strategies can be helpful at this stage. To understand more about your own or someone else’s gambling check out:

Check your gambling

Signs of problem gambling

At this stage, people are ready to accept there is a problem with their gambling, and they need to prepare to take some action.

Plans will be made with a view to making the required change soon. An example would be taking a problem gambling self-assessment quiz (Check your gambling) or finding out details of your local Gambling Help service.

If you recognise yourself or someone you know at this stage, let us help you.

People at this stage are taking action to change their gambling behaviours.

An example would be keeping busy, or replacing gambling with healthy behaviours like exercise or fishing. Seeking social support from friends and family is another example of taking action.

At this stage, rewarding yourself for the positive changes made to your gambling is important in order to stay motivated.  If you recognise yourself or someone you know at this stage let us help you. You can also take a look at these self-help strategies which others have found to be helpful:

Changing thoughts and beliefs

Focussing on health and wellbeing

Learning about triggers and urges

Keeping busy

By this stage, people are working to maintain any changes in their gambling behaviours, and to prevent going back to old unhelpful habits. Gambling is now seen as no longer desirable and a number of coping and self-help strategies have been put in place and are working.

Practice is required to maintain the changes so that the new behaviours can be turned into habits.

If you recognise yourself or someone you know at this stage, it might help to review the following:

Let us help you

Changing thoughts and beliefs

Focussing on health and wellbeing

Learning about triggers and urges

Managing money

iAdapted from the Transtheoretical Model of Behaviour Change, originally developed by Prochaska, DiClemente and colleagues

RELAPSE

A relapse is a return to problem gambling behaviours. It can be difficult, but try not to be too hard on yourself if you experience a relapse. Relapses are a part of the process of change, and they are common.

Relapses do not happen ‘out of the blue’, they can usually be anticipated. Relapses often occur because we haven’t recognised or perhaps have ignored, the warning signs.


LIST OF RELAPSE WARNING SIGNS

BEHAVIOUR

  • Increase in stress symptoms (smoking or eating increase, sleeping problems).

  • Irritability, increased conflict, poor patience with others.

  • Lack of communication or defensive communication around the problem of gambling, finances or time management.

  • Increased use of drugs or alcohol.

  • Going to a gaming venue to ‘socialise’.

  • Carrying extra money or ATM cards without a plan about how to keep cash safe.

  • Returning to spending time with friends who are active gamblers.

  • Forgetting or delaying attending counselling, or using strategies you have set.

  • Stopping self-care activities that you have used to keep away from gambling.

EMOTIONS

  • Increased feelings of sadness or depression.

  • Increased feelings of anger, annoyance or frustration.

  • Increased feelings of isolation and loneliness.

  • Increased boredom or restlessness.

  • Grieving for the loss of gambling.

  • Excitement and desire to celebrate some event or occasion.

  • Feeling overwhelmed with life circumstances.

  • Feeling dissatisfied with how long change takes and feeling things should improve more quickly.

THOUGHTS

  • Thinking you have ‘beaten’ the problem because you have not gambled for a period.

  • Overestimating the degree of control that you have over the behaviour, e.g. thinking that you can just “gamble $20” or just “pop into the club for 20 minutes”.

  • Thinking you deserve to gamble because you have been ‘good’, that is, rewarding yourself for reducing gambling, by gambling.

  • Thinking it is time to test your control of gambling.

  • Thinking gambling could solve financial or other problems.

ATTITUDE

  • Weakened commitment to your original goal of stopping/reducing gambling.

  • Reduction in value placed on your original goal.

  • Believing it is too hard to change.

To learn more about relapse or to discuss relapse signs call the Gambling Helpline on 1800 858 858 and talk to a counsellor.

If you return to problem gambling, you already know some strategies that have worked for you. This might be a good time to explore what led to this relapse.

WHAT TO DO NEXT?

It is important to consider where you are now and what you want to achieve. If gambling is causing you lots of worry and you are struggling with money, work and relationships, you might want to stop gambling altogether. If this is the first time you have considered changing your gambling, cutting down may be your preferred option.

If you would like to talk to someone now about either stopping your gambling or cutting back, call the Gambling Helpline on 1800 858 858 (24 hours a day, 7 days a week). Our staff are ready to help, and it’s free and completely confidential.

Also consider self-exclusion as a way to help stop gambling. Self-exclusion means you ban yourself from gambling, and is available at all casinos, hotels, clubs and UBET outlets in Queensland. Learn more.


WHAT STRATEGIES WORK?

Gamblers try many things to make a change to their gambling. Below are some things that work well.

SELF-HELP

Many people successfully change gambling using self-help strategies. Self-help is the first choice and most widely used type of help amongst problem gamblers.

Self-help can be used on its own or in combination with other professional help. To find these helpful strategies go to the self-help page.

GAMBLING HELP COUNSELLING

If you are ready to try professional help, counselling can help. The Gambling Help service counsellors offer free face-to-face or telephone counselling from various locations across Queensland. Gambling Help counsellors are skilled professionals and available 24/7. You can call 1800 858 858 now to talk to one of our counsellors and they can organise an appointment at your local Gambling Help service.

If you are ready to try professional help, counselling can help. The Gambling Help service counsellors offer free face-to-face or telephone counselling from various locations across Queensland. Gambling Help counsellors are skilled professionals and available 24/7. You can call 1800 858 858 now to talk to one of our counsellors and they can organise an appointment at your local Gambling Help service.

Counsellors work with you on your concerns – they don’t tell you to stop gambling, or tell you what to do. A counsellor may help you to work out your own goals for change and to begin problem solving. During counselling sessions, together, you and your counsellor may devise strategies to try out between sessions to help with change. Later, your counsellor will help you review what you’ve tried and see how it is working.

Once you are managing gambling situations, you may no longer need counselling. Your counsellor will help you to make a plan for maintaining your changes after counselling ends.

Each person will have unique challenges and concerns, so what happens in counselling will vary from person to person.

Gambling counselling can help you to:

  • identify your change goals

  • understand why you gamble

  • understand and address underlying issues linked to problem gambling

  • address relationship and family problems linked to gambling

  • learn about your personal triggers for gambling and find ways to avoid or respond differently to triggers

  • understand and manage depression, anxiety, trauma and grief that may affect your gambling

  • learn money management strategies

  • maintain changes made.

HOW LONG AND HOW OFTEN DO I NEED TO ATTEND COUNSELLING?

Gambling Help counselling sessions are usually about one hour. You and your counsellor will look at what is happening for you and decide together about the frequency and timing of sessions. Counselling may start weekly, then happen less frequently as you gain skills and confidence in managing your gambling. As you begin to feel more confident in managing your gambling, your counsellor will help you to move forward with your gambling change.

The real life stories page has interviews with people talking about how Gambling Help counselling helped them to address their gambling issues.

The Gambling Help service is a free, confidential, face-to-face help service that operates during business hours across Queensland. To find your nearest Gambling Help service visit the locations page. Call 1800 858 858 for a referral.

If you would like to see a counsellor outside the Gambling Help service, look for someone who offers cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) and motivational interviewing. These types of counselling are the most effective when dealing with problem gambling.

Below is a video that explains what happens when you visit a Gambling Help counsellor.

If you would like more information, let us help you.

Community organisations that provide Gambling Help support may also offer relationship/marriage and/or financial counselling or be able to refer you to appropriate support. Read below for more information. Alternatively, contact the Gambling Help service on 1800 858 858 to find out how to access relationship/marriage and/or financial counselling in your local area.

OTHER COUNSELLING

Other counselling includes relationship/marriage counselling and financial counselling.

Other counselling includes relationship/marriage counselling and financial counselling.

Relationship/marriage counselling

Often a problem gambler needs to work hard on repairing the damage he or she has done to their relationships. After years of lying about gambling, partners need to re-establish trust.

Relationship/marriage counselling can help problem gamblers and their partners address these issues.

Financial counselling

Financial counsellors provide information, support and advocacy to assist people in financial difficulty. Specialist financial counselling has made a positive difference for many problem gamblers.

Financial counselling helps gamblers to improve their financial position. Participating in gambling counselling together with financial counselling can help to stop or reduce gambling.

Financial counsellors can help you:

  • by providing a full financial assessment

  • explore pros and cons of financial options

  • with money management skills and understanding where money is going

  • introduce cash safety net strategies

  • with information on your debt and debt collection rights and responsibilities

  • with information on consumer credit laws and legal rights

  • with how to manage hardship applications, negotiations with creditors, payment arrangements, dispute resolution and the ombudsman

  • with information on government eligibility schemes and bankruptcy.

Community organisations that provide Gambling Help support may also offer financial counselling or be able to refer you to appropriate support. Contact the Gambling Helpline on 1800 858 858 to find out how to access financial counselling in your local area.

Financial counselling is also available from the National Debt Helpline. Call 1800 007 007 to talk to a free phone financial counsellor from anywhere in Australia between 9.30am - 4.30pm, Monday to Friday.

SELF-EXCLUSION

A self-exclusion (or self-ban) is where you request to be banned from specific gambling providers, products or services. Self-exclusion can be an important step if you are thinking about changing your gambling. Learn more.

FAMILY AND FRIENDS

Family and friends can be important supports for a person trying to change their gambling behaviours. If you have decided to make a change to your gambling, consider talking to family and friends about your decision.

It can be easier to stick to a decision about changing your gambling if you tell other people. Remember, you need to choose carefully and talk to people you can trust when looking for the support of others. Learn more about using social support.


Contact us

If gambling has become a problem for you, or someone you care about, get some help. It’s free and confidential.

Call the Gambling Helpline on 1800 858 858 anytime 24 hours a day, 7 days a week

Click for face-to-face counselling locations

Click for online counselling and real time chat