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If you have a gambling problem you can release superannuation savings to help pay for gambling addiction treatment.

Gambling more than you can afford is an addiction, and it can ruin relationships and lead to serious mental health problems, Release My Super can help you access your super for gambling addiction treatment.

It starts in the spring with our racing carnival and then moves into the cricket season, with just a small break before we start the AFL season – these events can be particularly brutal for problem gamblers. Now with the legalisation of sports gambling and the easy access afforded by smartphones to betting and other gaming apps, gambling has gone mainstream. Before, you had to travel to a casino or racetrack; now gambling is never further away than your pocket, and it’s easier to hide.

Given this climate, it’s more important than ever to know the warning signs of gambling addiction – when gambling has moved from harmless fun to a serious and potentially dangerous problem. In fact, 2018 research from the Harm Reduction Journal reported that women’s participation in, and harm from gambling, is also steadily increasing. If you’re questioning whether you may have a problem, I recommend taking a break. However, I encourage you to have a strategy in place first.

This can include:

  • Enlisting support from friends or loved ones
  • Tell those close to you about your decision
  • The more support you surround yourself with, the better.
  • If you have an accountability buddy, for example, you can call that person anytime you are struggling, and he or she can help redirect you without judgment.

Rethinking your habits. Maybe you need to remove apps or games from your phone that are difficult to resist and instead engage in an activity with a friend or family member who knows about your commitment to abstain from gambling. If going to a casino or participating in fantasy football is part of your regular social life, I encourage you to try something else instead.

Creating limits. There are such things as social gamblers. Make a commitment to your support network that you are not going to bet more than, say, $50 total. If you can’t adhere to that limit, then you may need professional help to address your behaviour.

Having an exit strategy for social settings. If you’re struggling not to gamble, you know that dealing with sports in a social setting, such as a Super Bowl party, can be tough. It’s important to build in an exit strategy ahead of time. Tell your host that you might be leaving at halftime. Have a friend or a support person attend with you, or have someone you can call if you are triggered or uncomfortable. A little planning can help ward off a downward spiral and keep you on track.

If you suspect a loved one has a gambling problem
Problem gamblers are particularly adept at hiding their problems, so often the family has no idea a loved is knee-deep in disordered behaviour until it results in significant consequences. Especially, in this world of online gambling, it may not be apparent to friends or loved ones that an individual is engaged in the behaviour because it’s easy to do it in private in a matter of minutes. So, what should people watch do?

As with any use disorder, it’s important to look for cycles. Somebody who’s “winning” is going to be elated and flush, almost manic in their outlook on life, while somebody who has experienced losses may crash with an unexplained bout of depression. The financial struggles brought about by gambling may be well hidden, but the emotional rollercoaster can be highly visible.

There may also be some subtle financial signs of gambling addiction – loans from a family that isn’t repaid, grandiose plans to start new businesses that never come to fruition, or mounting debt even when they’re working and should have enough income to cover expenses.

Over time, money problems may become legal ones as the use of escalates. Theft and dishonesty around money are prevalent with gambling disorders. Most of the time such theft is limited to the family, but sometimes it spills over into the workplace in the form of embezzlement. The key is to remain aware and look for a consistent pattern.

While gamblers tend to be incredibly secretive about their losses, they may be willing to tell you about their wins. If someone talks frequently about winning money, it may be a sign they are losing just as much, if not more.

Again, family members may or may not see the full depth of the problem. Therefore, it’s important to seek professional help: How to intervene with this person? What questions need to be asked to find out if a loved one is struggling more than they’re admitting? There is a tremendous societal taboo about asking someone the details of their finances, and having professional guidance can offer a thorough assessment.

When you take away somebody’s access, you take away their “drug of choice” and all their coping strategies. Anxiety and depression can result, leading to social isolation, potentially turning to substances or other unhealthy ways of coping. Explosive anger is not uncommon, and there is a high risk of domestic violence.

There’s also an enormously high rate of suicide and attempted suicide with gambling disorders. A gambler may have been trying to keep losses secret, in part out of shame and in part to continue the use. When they have burned through the last of their money – and most of the time they have been stealing or diverting funds as well – when they recognize that their actions are about to come to light, the sense of failure and shame can be overwhelming. If an intervention is necessary, it should be done carefully and thoroughly with guidance from a professional.

Take withdrawal from gambling seriously

Withdrawal can happen with process-driven disorders such as gaming or gambling just as they do with substance use disorders. The withdrawal isn’t biologically life-threatening, as it could be with benzodiazepine or alcohol withdrawal. However, there are definite signs and symptoms with dangerous implications that many gamblers experience when they are trying to stop their behaviour.

The good news is that there are both outpatient and residential programs geared towards digital use disorders and gambling addiction. Patients learn how to address not only the gambling problem but also the underlying issues, so they can recover successfully. There is also a well-established 12-step program for gamblers both in person and online.

If you have a gambling problem you can release superannuation savings to help pay for treatment.

For confidential help and advice about gambling addiction treatment, contact Release My Super on 1300 090 261


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