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HOW TO LIMIT YOUR GAMBLING – A psychologist’s perspective

There is a very grey area between problem gamblers and those who just think that they may gamble too much. The one differentiating factor is that gambling addicts do not always realize they have a problem. With any addiction, acceptance is the first step to recovery. However, it is not that cut and dry. There are those gamblers who know they have a very real problem, but they are nevertheless addicted to the thrill of gambling. One would assume that people are only addicted to winning. This is not the case either. A losing streak can easily trigger an underlying addiction and intensify an existing addiction. This is because those on a losing streak always think their luck will change at some stage and will keep gambling until they have nothing left – often leaving themselves and their loved ones in debt.

If you think you have an addictive personality, it is advisable not to gamble at all. A gambling addiction can be triggered at any stage. There are some schools of thought that suggest that gambling addiction is addictive. Although this has proven true with regards to alcoholism, the gambling hypothesis is still just a theory – but possibly quite valid.

Just because alcoholism is sometimes caused by genetic factors, it can also be triggered by a range of other factors – just like gambling addiction. In order to keep away from any potential problems, it is advisable to contact a mental health practitioner in the event of any doubt arising with regards to one’s propensity to bad gambling habits.

There are certain signs to look out for. The first factor is surfacing of other addictive personality traits. These can include drinking, drugs, smoking and eating. There are also obsessive compulsive traits that could be indicative of an underlying gambling addiction. These could include unnatural hygiene rituals, fears and superstitions.

Anything in excess is bad. Gambling especially. For most gamblers, gambling for relaxation and recreation will never be a problem. The problem is highlighted when gambling becomes an obsession and in this case, the consequences can be dire.

There are several ways to curb one’s gambling. The first thing to do is to set a strict time limit and cash limit. Sticking to these two simple guidelines instils a sense of responsibility. If a gambler has a responsible mindset, it is more difficult to stray into irresponsible gambling habits.

It is also advisable to take regular breaks during gambling time – especially when partaking in online gambling as there is nobody else to monitor the situation. In this case, a simple exercise like sit-ups or a walk around the garden can do wonders to keep one’s head clear. Keeping a clear head is the single most important factor in gambling responsibly. A clear head allows one to keep perspective and if one’s perspective is compromised even one iota, the spiral downwards can turn ugly very quickly.

For those who need more help regarding gambling problems: National Council on Problem Gambling | Gamblers Anonymous International Service

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