How Can I Stop My Child From Gambling

Mar 27, 2024

What is Gambling addiction?

Gambling addiction is sometimes called compulsive gambling. It refers to the inability to stop gambling. A gambling addiction is serious as it can affect every aspect of one’s life. 

The reason why gambling is so addicting is that it stimulates the brain’s reward system. This behavioral addiction is similar to how the brain reacts to drugs or alcohol. 

Most people who struggle with compulsive gambling can recover from professional treatment. This treatment is also possible for kids who fall into the gambling trap. 

Signs of gambling addiction

Casual gamblers can set limits. However, someone with a compulsive gambling problem keeps playing until they lose everything. Some gambling addicts might turn to fraud or theft to get more money to gamble. 

There are also times when gambling addicts go through remissions where they might not gamble at all. The most common signs are:

  • Chasing losses 

  • Desire to bet with large amounts of money more often

  • Increased preoccupation with gambling

  • Inability to stop gambling even when they hit rock bottom 

Without proper treatment, the addiction isn’t possible to overcome on its own. Gamblers need to have the desire to quit or an intervention. 

Is an Intervention needed?

Intervention is necessary if a loved one loses control of their life. However, an intervention can only work if you confront them gently. Interventions should never be treated as interrogations. This causes more shame and harm to the addict and accomplishes nothing.

Instead of questioning the individual, you should offer concrete examples of their addiction and what needs to change. You should also provide examples of how their addiction impacted their friends and family. 

Interventions are successful with the help of a licensed interventionist or mental health professional. They can offer an outlined treatment plan that includes specific goals and guidelines. 

The individual should also be aware of potential consequences if they refuse to get treatment. Effective intervention follows the four stages: validation, documentation, recommendation, and consequences, according to USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work.

Preventing Your Child from Gambling

The precursor to online gambling is mobile games. The prevalence of the internet and smartphones made it possible for kids to play online games. Most games require little skill and a higher element of chance, which encourages a longer attention span. 

Mobile games are harmless and involve kid-friendly elements like candy or animals. However, these games cause the same dopamine rush that gamblers also experience. Some of these games slowly introduce them to gambling apps, such as online casino games or sports betting.

Kids notice these apps offer a quick way to earn money. Another problem is that some gambling apps look similar to gaming apps. They can have kid-friendly graphics and imagery that attract younger gamblers. 

Parents need to be aware of their children’s habits to prevent a gambling problem. First, they can set up parental controls through their internet service provider. Parent control software is also available to download, some of which comes with a free version. 

You can also monitor how much time your kid spends on their computer or smartphone. Some mobile apps allow parents to set screen limits and manage usage. Parents will also get access to their child’s online activity. 

As always, you should speak to your child about the dangers of online gaming and gambling. More children are using tablets and smartphones younger than ever, so it’s important to have these conversations as soon as possible. You can organically initiate these conversations with the use of external cues.

For example, if there’s an ad for a sports betting app on TV, this is one way to approach the topic. Have an open and honest relationship with your kid. 

Don’t judge your child’s online activity. Rather, set them on the right track to healthier habits, such as outdoor activities and exercise. Be a good role model by setting aside your phone at dinner and limiting screen time to spend more time with your kid. 

Treatment Options for Your Child

Gambling isn’t a problem that can be resolved on its own. Due to the secrecy involved with gambling addiction, your child may not understand the impacts of this problem until significant damage occurs. 

Educate yourself on gambling addiction, including the signs, symptoms, and treatment options. Avoid blaming your child and empathize with their struggle. Express your concerns and connect them with the proper resources that will get them help. 

Gambling addiction includes multiple treatment options. However, the most common form is a combination of counseling and medication. 

Serious gambling disorders may involve residential treatment centers, support groups, and intensive outpatient programs. For example, residential centers offer therapeutic treatment, while intensive outpatient programs require around-the-clock care. 

All of the other treatment options can take place outside a facility. There is also help available online. Birches Health offers help for those who are struggling with a gambling addiction. After taking the free assessment, your child will receive a comprehensive online treatment program

Resources:

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