Why is it difficult to stop gambling?

8 Feb 2022

Are you impacted by your gambling, but as much as you’d like to, you find it hard to stop?

If gambling is causing you stress but you continue to chase the feeling of excitement it gives, this could be a sign of problem gambling.

Once there’s an awareness that gambling may be impacting your life, it’s very normal for it to take a toll on your emotions, causing a sense of guilt and shame. And these feelings can actually increase your urges to gamble.

If this sounds familiar, try not to go it alone. It can be important to reach out for help and put some strategies in place to reduce your risk of harm.

We list some of the factors that can make it difficult to stop gambling, and some self-help tools to keep in your pocket when you need them.


Factors that Make it Hard to Stop Gambling

When you experience some form of gambling harm, the question of “why me?” may pop up.

Below is a good starting point to recognise what factors can influence problem gambling and make it hard to stop.

  • You have family members that have a history of problem gambling
  • Your work, social, or cultural communities consider gambling as a normal social connection
  • A history of, or current, mental health issues such as depression and/or anxiety
  • A pattern of impulsive or risk-taking behaviour
  • Experiencing high stress around relationships, grief, finances, or work
  • A personal history or current frequent use of alcohol or drugs.

If you need support, a counsellor can help you with problems caused by gambling. Services are free and confidential. Call the 24/7 helpline on 1800 858 858.


Self-Help for Problem Gambling

Change doesn’t happen all at once. Remember to take small steps to achieve your goals around gambling. Here are some tools that might help.

Plan Ahead

Know your triggers and keep track of your plans with friends and family, and organise social events or celebrations in an environment you feel comfortable. Instead of meeting at the pub, you might like to suggest a café or restaurant that’s less likely to put you at risk of gambling.

Consider Self-Exclusion

Self- exclusion applications are available at all venues that offer gambling. You can fill out a form that agrees you’ll be excluded from use of the gambling area in your chosen venue/s. A counsellor at the Gambling Help Service can assist you with your self-exclusion application if you have any questions or need a hand filling it out. Or, if you would prefer not to go into a venue to set up the self-exclusion, a Gambling Help counsellor can set you up with an exclusion from multiple venues remotely.  

Explore New or Old Hobbies

Channel your energy into something that has a positive effect on your wellbeing. Maybe there’s a past hobby you’ve been thinking about picking up again, or a new hobby that might keep you busy in times you would normally spend gambling.

Practise Self-Compassion

Setbacks are a normal part of changing old habits. Try not to focus too much of your energy on setbacks and instead, focus on the areas where you’re doing well. It might even help to keep a list of your progress, strengths, and achievements.

We offer some more great self-help tips to add to your toolkit here: How Can I Stop Gambling on My Own | Gambling Help QLD

Reach Out

If you feel the urge to gamble, reach out to someone you trust. If you’d feel more comfortable talking to a professional, a counsellor can help you talk through your situation and support you through changes.

Understanding how to overcome problem gambling can take some research, reaching out, and talking to a counsellor.

We offer free and confidential counselling in person and over the phone. You can call the 24/7 gambling helpline on 1800 858 858 to talk to someone or book an appointment in person. You can also access 24/7 online chat counselling, peer-support forums and other self-help tools and information from the Gambling Help Online website at gamblinghelponline.org.au.

Our services are here for anyone impacted by gambling, including friends and family. If you’re worried about someone you care about, it’s important to look after yourself too.

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