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Story

Don't Take A Gamble With Gambling Online

15/10/2009

Don't Take A Gamble With Gambling Online

Here's advice on staying out of trouble online

Gamcare has seen an explosion in women gamblers over the last couple years. With online gambling literally at your fingertips it's easy to get sucked in. Feeling a bit bored at lunchtime? A little excitement in the form of online action is the click of a mouse away. Fed up after a long day at work, or juggling both work and childcare? You can gamble at your home computer or set your laptop buzzing with some bingo. No problem!

Online gambling can be fun and a diversion from daily life in moderation. But you need to be aware you don't get sucked into problem gambling. Some key things to consider about your personality might help keep gambling under control. Consider the following questions:

Do you get bored easily? Yes  No

Do you like taking risks? Yes   No

Are your moods quite changeable? Yes         No

Do you get your feelings hurt easily? Yes      No

Do you hide your feelings? Yes           No

Do you find it hard to control habits like smoking? Yes         No

Have you ever worried about your behaviour around certain things like drinking? Yes      No

Are you secretive about how often you gamble online? Yes No

Would you describe yourself as very stressed? Yes   No

Being honest, do you not look after yourself very well? Yes No

Yes answers can mean you're susceptible to gambling-type issues. That's because typically gamblers show destructive behavior patterns like not looking after themselves, having unhealthy habits and being secretive. They also experience negative emotions like feeling under stress, believing they have to hide their feelings, being susceptible to moodiness, and feeling bored easily.

If these questions ring a bell with you and you're either gambling regularly online, or tempted to, then take these nine necessary steps as preventive measures:

Identify your pattern: When do you go online to gamble? Is it always at the same time of day or evening? Perhaps it varies depending on your obligations that day. Identify your pattern of online gambling even if it turns out you don't have a set pattern. Arm yourself with whatever knowledge you can.

Recognise your weaknesses: Within that pattern can you recognise that feeling weak, vulnerable, or stressed out, drives you to gamble online? It's important to highlight your weak points when you're most likely to want the "lift" that gambling gives you. Then you can act on those rather than "burying" the things that worry you or causes stress.

Develop your strengths: Think through when things go right for you. You might have strong points, say, like dealing well with the demands of your boss. How can you apply those to areas where you feel weak and vulnerable? Get creative and apply the things you do that work well on, say, the partner you find hard to handle. The more you develop your strengths the less likely you’ll succumb to a desire to gamble.

Stop keeping secrets: If you've been secretive about how much you're going online it's time for some honesty. Gamblers keep their problem behaviour from the people they care about most. They don't want to upset their partner or their families and they becomesecretive. Always remember your loved ones want to know if you're struggling. They can help you resist going online and in making good choices like getting rid of your PC.

Learn to burn stress: If feeling stressed drives you to look for some light relief (believe me gambling isn’t light relief if you're getting in trouble with it!) It's far better to look for constructive ways to burn stress. Take up some exercise that you’ll enjoy and stick to as it can be a brilliant stress burner. Make it a regular date in your diary.

Face your challenges: As you begin to recognise your weaknesses and develop your strengths stop running from challenges. When faced with, say, a deadline you fear you won't meet don’t turn to online gambling as a distraction. Instead face challenges head on. This can develop your self-esteem in leaps and bounds - critical for fighting a compulsion to gamble.

Enjoy some "safe" risk: There's nothing wrong with having a risk-taking nature if you channel it into "safe" risk. I speak from first-hand experience! There are many ways you can challenge yourself that won't damage you but will vent that desire for action. Try an action sport like wall-climbing, white water rafting, or abseiling. Take up a hobby like public speaking or amateur dramatics. These will set your adrenaline buzzing.

Get off the rollercoaster: It's crucial to steady your mood swings that might veer from "excitable" when you're online, to completely depressed a few hours later. These keep you hooked in this cycle of seeking a "lift" online. Practice daily relaxation and calming meditation. Yoga is also excellent for calming your emotions.

Handover financial responsibility: If you've got in trouble financially hand over your finances to your partner or trusted family member. Do so until you've regained strength to fight your gambling compulsion.

Ring the Gamcare helpline for confidential advice - 0845-6000-133

Published in The Express Newspaper