How to help a gambling addict
Gambling addiction is known as an impulse-control disorder, where people with the problem struggle to regulate their urge to gamble.
Recovery can take a lot of hard work and encouragement from family and friends. We have outlined the signs to look out for if you are concerned about someone’s gambling and the steps to take so that your loved one can get the help they need.
Signs of a gambling addict
If you believe that a friend or family member is dealing with a gambling addiction, there are warning signs to look out for:
- Spending excessive time on screens
- Loss of interest in other hobbies
- Increasing amounts of money gambled to recoup lost bets or experience a thrill
- Hiding the amount of money and time spent gambling from family and friends
- Stealing money to gamble
- Denial of a gambling problem
Practical ways to help
Taking the first step to helping a gambling addict can be hard. It is important to understand that they may feel ashamed, or may deny that they have a problem.
How to start the conversation
Make sure that any conversation you have is in private and that everyone is calm and safe. Let them know that you think they are gambling and that you know it is affecting those closest to them. Also, make them aware of how much you care about them.
During the conversation, focus on the fact that gambling is the problem – not them – and try to remain non-judgemental.
Explain what you’ve noticed
When talking about what you’ve noticed, explain why the behaviour worries you and how you feel. Are they always short of money? Do they no longer take part in activities? Are they seemingly more stressed than they used to be?
Listen to them talk
Be mindful to listen to the person. If they aren’t ready to talk, ask them to at least think about their behaviour. You could offer them information about where they can get help – Priory has a free initial assessment with an experienced therapist for treatments including gambling.
If the person doesn’t want to talk, you can also take a break and try another time. You may also want to recommend that they go to Gamblers Anonymous, and even offer to go with them.