Australia is a gambling nation, with around 80 per cent of young people having participated in gambling at least once. What starts as fun can become a serious problem if it begins to negatively affect your daily life or cause financial problems. On average, one Australian teen in every high school class has an issue with gambling. Quitting a gambling addiction isn’t easy, but there are a lot of support services available if you think you have a problem with it.
This can help if:
- you’re spending a lot of time gambling
- you’re in debt as a result of gambling
- you want to know more about problem gambling
- you’d like help with quitting or reducing your gambling.
Signs of a gambling addiction
A gambling addiction isn't always easy for someone to admit to. In fact, people who who have a problem with gambling often lie about their betting habits or try to hide them from others. If you’re worried that you or a friend might have a gambling addiction, here are some common signs:
- You think or talk about gambling all the time.
- You spend more money or time on gambling than you intend to.
- You gamble when you feel sad, anxious or distressed.
- You spend more and more money to get the same ‘kick’ or rush.
- You bet more and more money to try and make up for past losses.
- You’ve repeatedly tried to stop or reduce your gambling without success.
- You become irritable or restless when you try to cut back on your gambling.
- Gambling is having a negative effect on your relationships, work or study.
- You rely on other people for money, because of your gambling losses.
- You feel depressed or are having suicidal thoughts.
Problem gambling impacts on every part of your life.
- Falling into debt and not having enough money for your everyday expenses.
- Increased conflict with your partner, neglect or mistreatment of your family members, and loss of friendships.
- Underperforming, failing subjects or losing your job.
- Higher rates of distress and mental illness.
- In particular, high incidence of depression and anxiety.
- Episodes of irritability, anger, guilt, shame and loneliness.
- Higher chance of substance abuse and drug addiction.
- Higher rates of problem drinking and smoking.
- Frequently taking prolonged leave from work, home life and other normal settings.
Getting help for gambling addiction
The good news is that there are a wide range of treatment options and resources available to help you manage a gambling addiction. Professional help is recommended, but a variety of self-help and supported options are also available, including the following:
- Visit Gambling Help Online, Gamblers Anonymous or Problem Gambling Australia for further information, tools and support.
- Watch videos of people talking about their experiences of problem gambling.
Over the phone
- Ring the Gambling Help Line on 1800 858 858, for free 24/7 telephone counselling.
- Call the Financial Counselling Hotline on 1800 007 007 for assistance with financial difficulties.
- Speak to a telephone counsellor at Lifeline, for 24/7 support with any personal difficulties or distress.
- Share experiences and work towards recovery from a gambling addiction with others by joining Gamblers Anonymous or SMART Recovery.
- Speak to your GP about a referral to a specialist service.
- Contact Relationships Australia or the Salvation Army to participate in counselling and programs aimed at overcoming addictions and managing associated problems.