Anyone from any occupation can have gambling problems.
While many people can enjoy gambling without it becoming an issue, sometimes
gambling can go from a fun and harmless activity to a rather unhealthy
obsession and usually with serious consequences. Whether it’s betting on
scratch cards, sports, slots, roulette, or poker, – in a casino, online or at
the track – a gambling problem can strain relationships, other times interfere
with work and it almost always leads to financial disaster. Sometimes it makes one
do things they never thought they would do like running debts and in extreme
cases, stealing money just to gamble.
Understanding Gambling Addiction
Gambling addiction is an impulse-control disorder. It
is also known as compulsive gambling, gambling disorder, or pathological
gambling. An addicted gambler cannot control the urge to gamble, even when it
has caused negative consequences to the person and their loved ones too. They
will gamble whether they are broke or flush, up or down and they will keep gambling
despite the consequences. This even includes when they are aware that the odds
are against them or when they cannot afford to lose.
Needless to say, a gambling problem does not have to
be the case where one is totally out of control. Problem gambling is any kind
of gambling behavior that disrupts one’s life. You should know you have a
gambling problem when gambling preoccupies your mind, you spend more money and
more time gambling, chasing losses, and even gambling despite the damaging
consequences in your life.
A gambling problem or addiction is also often linked
to other mood or behavior disorders such as substance abuse issues, stress,
depression, unmanaged ADHD, anxiety, or bipolar disorder. Many gamblers have
been shown to suffer from these disorders too. To overcome a gambling problem,
one needs to address these issues as well as other underlying causes.
How to Help Someone with a Gambling Addiction
Most times, when you do not have a gambling problem
yourself, it can prove difficult to understand what someone with it goes
through or even why he or she cannot stop. Now that you have an idea of what
gambling addiction is like, and you have someone close to you that has a
gambling problem, the most important thing you should understand is that you
cannot force him or her to stop or change their behavior; but instead, you can
Gambling addiction recovery is not easy; it takes hard work as well as a lot of encouragement. Many compulsive gamblers end up turning their lives around mainly from the support of those people who are close to them. If you know a compulsive gambler and you really want to help them, but you do not know how, here are a few tips to get you started.
Understanding them – and yourself too
To communicate with someone more effectively, the key
is trying to understand what he or she is going through. Sometimes when someone
feels they are understood; they are often likely to open up and be honest with
you and also with themselves. This allows you to come up with and negotiate a
While some gamblers may not be aware that they have a
problem, the ones who do may have feelings of shame, remorse, and guilt,
especially when they know that their problem is affecting those close to them
as well. In addition, in their desperation to try to regain the lost money,
they may end up developing behaviors that are out of character to them like
stealing which can be shocking to both family and friends. All this may cause
feelings of anger, hurt, and betrayal, which can prove difficult for people and
even you to understand and help them.
Therefore, finding ways to understand both the problem
gambler and yourself is a great way to start the journey of helping them.
Understanding is as simple as finding out and understanding what gambling
addiction is, its underlying causes, symptoms, consequences and then putting
yourself in their shoes.
to them about the Problem and Explain the Consequences
Discussing the problem with a compulsive gambler is
the next important step. If you start seeing a pattern of behavior that leads
to gambling addiction, it may be a good time to step in especially if it is
getting the person into trouble. To make the approach easy, first of all
consider your relationship with the person whether you are close, related, or
just casual friends or even colleagues. If you were not close, the best
approach would be to discuss with someone closer to the gambler the problematic
behavior you have noticed. You can talk to the spouse, a relative, or a close
When you are talking to them, calmly explain to them
the consequences of gambling and try to make them understand. Present the facts
logically about the damage and harm compulsive gambling can lead to. In the
process, avoid being judgmental as they may become defensive when you try to
explain things. Try to remain calm and sympathetic since expressing blame and
anger will only lead to more problems. If at first the conversation doesn’t go
well, don’t push it as you may make the other person more angry or unwilling to
communicate, simply let it go for a while and then broach the subject later.
Treatment and Follow Up
As a treatment starting point, you can suggest a
gambling hotline to the person when they admit they do have a problem.
Secondly, encourage them to get treatment for their addiction. Gambling
addiction can be managed and completely recovered through the use of various
therapy techniques. Therapy can also help the person to figure out or get a
diagnosis of an underlying condition, if any, and are treated for that.
Treatment may involve the use of medication for the underlying or related
disorders and in severe cases, inpatient treatment may be necessary. Also,
through therapy, he/she can learn to cope with stressors and triggers that may lead
to relapse and impulses. Support groups are also a helpful technique to cope
with gambling hence encouraging them to join one is good too.
The road to gambling addiction recovery can be long
and hard therefore always purpose to encourage them if they feel discouraged or
helpless. You can offer to be their designated person or sponsor to help them
face the problems that may arise during recovery together.
Relapses can be triggered by boredom or when the
person has unstructured time. You can help with this by helping them learn how
to keep busy or spend more time with them. Also, encourage the person to pursue
healthy hobbies that will refocus their attention from gambling. You can
suggest new hobbies, or encourage them to get back into doing anything they
used to be interested in before they started gambling. Lastly, since gambling
often leaves a person in a serious financial crisis, you can help them figure
out how to approach their financial problems and get things back in order. An
important tip; before or during the healing process, avoid providing or loaning
money to the person since it can reinforce or contribute to the behavior
As a go away tip, part of recovering and moving on is
accepting what happened. Dwelling on the past will not do anything for both you
and the compulsive gambler. Therefore, acknowledge what happened, forgive the
person, help them with the treatment process and if necessary, sometimes it
helps to distance yourself from them temporarily.
The post HOW TO HELP SOMEONE WITH A GAMBLING ADDICTION appeared first on Escape Magazine by Planet 7.