10 Questions to Ask If You Think Your Loved One Has a Gambling Problem

Jun 24, 2023

Discovering that someone you care about may have a gambling problem is a hard and stressful situation. Asking these questions can help you better understand if they should seek professional assistance and speak with a licensed gambling counselor.

10 Non-Clinical Questions to Ask if You Think Your Loved One Has a Gambling Problem

It’s a conversation you may not want to start, but discovering that a loved one may be struggling with gambling addiction can be a stressful and challenging situation for all individuals affected and involved. If your husband, wife, partner, son, or daughter has a gambling problem, it’s better to act and understand what they are going through to be better able to support them. Problem Gambling and Gambling disorder can lead to severe financial stress, social consequences, and emotional burdens that end up impacting not only the individual but also their family and their close, personal relationships. 

If you suspect someone close to you like a friend, colleague, or family member is dealing with a gambling problem or sports betting issue, it is crucial to approach the issue with sincere empathy, an open understanding, and a desire to help. You can always suggest they speak with a licensed counselor as a first step. One effective way to mentally prepare or even begin the conversation is by considering thoughtful questions that encourage open communication and provide an aperture and platform for support. Below are ten questions that may be worth considering and presenting when asking if a loved one has a gambling problem, along with the reasons behind each inquiry. While these questions may be helpful in understanding if someone close to you has a gambling problem, they are not replacements for a clinical assessment which should be recommended for someone worried about their gambling.

  1. How long have you been gambling? How frequently do you gamble? This question aims to understand the extent of their gambling habit. The length and frequency of their gambling activities can provide insights into whether their behavior may have evolved into a compulsive or addictive pattern.

  2. Have you noticed any changes in your finances or how you spend money since you started gambling? By inquiring about their finances, you can determine whether their gambling has resulted in affecting their economic livelihood and stability. Individuals struggling with gambling addiction will often experience financial strain.

  3. Have you ever borrowed money or taken loans to gamble? This question helps to uncover any potential signs of at-risk behaviors, such as borrowing money from family or friends or resorting to loans (both legal and illegal). This may indicate a significant gambling problem. It also highlights any potential risks associated with debt accumulation that may have been assumed by the individual.

  4. Do you find it difficult to control your gambling habits or to stop at times? The inability to control their gambling habits or stop is a root cause of addiction. By asking this question, you may encourage self-reflection and provide an opportunity for the individual to recognize the need for help.

  5. Has gambling affected your relationships with family, colleagues, or friends? Gambling addiction can strain relationships due to financial issues, secrecy, and broken promises. Inquiring about their relationships sheds light on the impact of their gambling behavior on their personal connections and may prompt them to evaluate the consequences of their actions.

  6. Are you open to speaking with a specialized gambling counselor or taking a gambling behavior assessment? This question allows you to gauge their willingness to address the issue and seek the clinical support they may need. It emphasizes the importance of seeking professional guidance and reinforces the idea that recovery is possible.

  7. Have you tried to quit or lessen your gambling in the past? If so, what was the outcome? Were you able to stop for a period? This question encourages the individual to reflect on their previous attempts to change their gambling habits. It provides an opportunity to discuss what they are going through and the challenges they faced. Ultimately, this question may highlight the need for professional intervention.

  8. Have you ever lied or deceived others about your gambling activities? Deception is a common characteristic of addiction. By asking this question, you create a safe space for honesty and encourage the individual to confront the consequences of their actions, fostering a foundation of trust.

  9. How do you feel when you are not actively gambling? Exploring an individual’s emotions and what they are feeling when not engaged in gambling activities can help uncover underlying factors that contribute to their addiction. Understanding these emotions can aid in developing coping strategies and alternative outlets.

  10. Are there any specific triggers or situations that make you want to gamble? Identifying these situations leading to gambling urges and at-risk behaviors is essential for developing effective strategies to manage cravings. This question helps the individual recognize their personal triggers and serves as a starting point for creating an individualized treatment plan.

During this process, one should always remember: the true goal of asking questions like the ten above is not to judge or criticize but to create a safe space for open dialogue, understanding, and support. By encouraging and engaging with a loved one, you may be able to assist them in taking the next steps to seek professional help or encourage them to reach out to someone that can provide resources and guidance to aid them in their journey toward recovery. Remember, professional assistance from specialized gambling counselors is vital to provide comprehensive support for your loved one's journey to overcoming their gambling problem. If you are worried that someone in your daily life or a loved one is struggling with their gambling, take a short clinical assessment to better understand if they should speak with a licensed gambling counselor about their gambling.

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