Helping Clients to Stop Gambling

By Rob Hadley
Helping Clients to Stop Gambling
Gambling addiction (Photo by © Andrey Popov -

Gambling addictions are among the most difficult addictions to treat. At Vancouver Hypnotherapy we are often asked to help with this tricky challenge. Unlike many addictions, a serious gambling addiction may show few apparent signs to the people around the addict. With the easy availability of credit and the apparent respectability of casinos, gambling is a sad affliction that can decimate the life of an addict and their family. Our proven track record in this field is backed up with quality follow up and ongoing support.

Few gamblers accurately monitor how much they have spent, and how much they have lost during the night out. Only later do they really understand the cost of their habit.

While narcotics addictions are frequently accompanied by health issues, it would be wrong to think that gambling addiction differs from other addictions in this way. Many gamblers suffer depression, struggle with many aspects of moderation (such as binge drinking or eating), and suffer a higher than average rate of heart disease. Insomnia is also quit common among gambling addicts.

There are often social triggers associated with an addiction of this kind. 'My friends just want me to tag along... I won't actually spend anything..." The sense of belonging, the atmosphere and a secret pleasure of sharing guilt all conspire to seduce an addict further. In reality, when the stakes are high enough, there is no 'straight' game. There are no winners in the long run, except the house. It doesn't matter how good, or how smart the addict is. They will loose.

Help your client with the simple test below. It will help you assess the level of the issue.

Do I have a gambling problem?

Take the test below. If you answer 'Yes' to seven of the questions, then you should seriously consider getting some help - either from us, or another agency.

  • Did you ever lose time from work or school due to gambling?
  • Has gambling ever made your home life unhappy?
  • Did gambling affect your reputation?
  • Have you ever felt remorse after gambling?
  • Did you ever gamble to get money with which to pay debts or otherwise solve financial difficulties?
  • Did gambling cause a decrease in your ambition or efficiency?
  • After losing did you feel you must return as soon as possible and win back your losses?
  • After a win did you have a strong urge to return and win more?
  • Did you often gamble until your last dollar was gone?
  • Did you ever borrow to finance your gambling?
  • Have you ever sold anything to finance gambling?
  • Were you reluctant to use "gambling money" for normal expenditures?
  • Did gambling make you careless of the welfare of yourself or your family?
  • Did you ever gamble longer than you had planned?
  • Have you ever gambled to escape worry, trouble, boredom or loneliness?
  • Have you ever committed, or considered committing, an illegal act to finance gambling?
  • Did gambling cause you to have difficulty in sleeping?
  • Do arguments, disappointments or frustrations create within you an urge to gamble?
  • Did you ever have an urge to celebrate any good fortune by a few hours of gambling?
  • Have you ever considered self destruction or suicide as a result of your gambling?

If you answer the above questions honestly, and find that seven or more generate a positive response, you should do a few things immediately.

A. Build a support network to get you through this.

You need to talk to someone you trust about this, and explain you have a problem. This is probably a family member or close friend. In the preparation to overcome your addiction, you will need support from people around you. Some people find it impossible to tell their spouse, because it may lead to marital conflict. If this is the case look for another supporter close to the family, in the knowledge that sooner or later you will have to share this with others in your family. In these early stages though, let's stop the financial pain and just get the process started. If there is no one else, feel free to contact us at 604 484 0346. Don't try to do this alone. Believe me, it's bigger than you are.

B. Try to visualise how you would like the outcome to look.

You didn't always gamble. Life before gambling was not so bad. What did you like most about it? How would your like you life to look, if you did not face the problem of gambling, or the associated worry and debt? Write down clearly the details you would like to see in your life. What matters most to you? Once you have this, share it with your supporter.

C. Next time you feel the need to gamble, phone or contact your supporter immediately.

Urges to gamble are as real as withdrawal symptoms from hard narcotics. Don't expect to be able to fluff through this alone. You will need a process. Vancouver Hypnotherapy is one of a series of possible support systems you could put in place. You could also try Gamblers Anonymous, or finding another therapist or counselor.

D. Start managing the stresses in your life better.

I always recommend clients who have a behaviour linked to stress or anxiety, to read Dale Carnegie's wonderful book, 'Stop Worrying And Start Living'. In many instances better stress management plays a huge role in overcoming an addiction. You should also ensure you are eating three meals a day, and get at least two sessions of exercise (even if it is just walking) in every week. Don't make the mistake of underestimating the importance of this.

E. Be honest. Start accounting the full cost of your gambling over the past month.

You need to understand what this has cost you. List the absolute cost over the last month. If it is more than you are earning, you will need to put in place an arrangement where your partner or supporter starts managing your finances.

By this stage you can start getting a realistic idea of the impact of gambling on your life. It is a complex and vicious addiction. We are able to help clients that are prepared to work on this issue, and have done many times in the past.

Examples of addictions successfully treated by Vancouver Hypnotherapy include one gambler who quite literally gambled away her husband's house, without his knowledge. He had put the property in her name many years prior to her addiction, as he wanted to set up his own business. With the misplaced idea that transferring assets to his spouse would insulate her in the case of a business failure, this appeared like 'a good idea at the time'.

As her addiction set in, the bank extended a line of credit (secured against the house). In time the line of credit need to be renewed and extended further. It was not long before the delusion of addiction was overwhelming and the otherwise quite competent woman was making very seriously flawed financial decisions, and keeping them from her husband. The remortgaging of the house was one such flawed decision. Within two years the house, which had been bought and paid for by her husband's small business, was fully owned by the bank.

Getting her addiction under control was far from simple. We managed, through a course of therapy and counseling. Explaining to her husband that the house he thought he owned, was in fact owned by the bank was a great deal harder.

We work on gambling addiction frequently. If you are interested in more information contact us.

Rob Hadley CHt, http://www.VancouverHypnotherapy.Org

Give Up Gambling MP3 or CD

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