Helping a Loved One with a Gambling Addiction

Apr 27, 2023

Couple hugging as the man has a gambling addiction and the woman, his loved one, is able to support him through it.

How do I help someone who has a gambling problem? These helpful next steps show you how to help someone identify a gambling addiction or sports betting problem and find care.

How to Deal with a Loved One with a Gambling Addiction

Gambling addiction (also known as Problem Gambling)  is a serious problem that affects millions of Americans. While it may be difficult to recognize when a spouse, partner, child, or other loved one is struggling with gambling addiction (especially if they are secretive about their behavior), it is always important to be able to identify early warning signs as problem gambling can lead to theft, crime, debt, and eventual imprisonment. If you suspect that your loved one may be developing a gambling addiction, it is crucial to understand and address their behavior before it escalates and becomes too severe.

A first step for helping a loved one who may have a gambling addiction is to better understand and educate oneself about the symptoms, behaviors, and signs of problem gambling.

Some of the most commonly occurring signs of gambling addiction include:

  • Spending more money on gambling than they can afford

  • Trying to hide their gambling from others (particularly those they discuss financial matters with)

  • Easily becoming angry or responding with heightened emotion when questioned about their gambling

  • Neglecting responsibilities and duties at work, home, or school

  • Often borrowing money, taking out loans, or even selling possessions to fund a gambling habit

  • Feeling restless or irritable when not actively gambling

If you notice these behaviors in a loved one, it may be time to initiate a conversation with them about their behavior. Discussions such as these are important to begin in a non-judgemental and supportive way. Your loved one should leave the conversation knowing they are supported, loved, and can interact with you should they need to speak with someone about their emotional or mental challenges as it relates to problem gambling. A central takeaway from each discussion should be that your loved one knows you are concerned about their well-being and want to help them.

Even if your loved one is not ready, encouraging them to seek professional help for their gambling addiction and problem gambling behaviors is also an important step. There are many levels of resources available for people going through gambling addiction, including counseling, peer support groups, group and family therapy, and residential and inpatient treatment programs. While there is no cure for gambling addiction, a licensed provider like a Birches Health clinician will be able to help your loved one identify the underlying issues that are directly contributing to their problem gambling as well as evaluating them holistically and developing a personalized care plan.

As well as seeking professional help, there are also steps you can take as a  loved one to support your loved one's recovery. These often include setting limits on their financial access to money, encouraging them to participate in outdoor and healthy activities, and being patient and understanding throughout the recovery process.

Dealing with a loved one who may have a gambling addiction can be challenging, but with the right approach, it is possible to overcome this problem together. By educating yourself, encouraging your loved one to seek professional help, and offering your support, you can help your loved one overcome their addiction and move forward to a healthier and happier life.

Don’t hesitate to seek help if you or a loved one is struggling with problem gambling and feeling overwhelmed. There are many resources available to help you or your loved one overcome this problem, and with the right support, recovery is possible. Refer an individual to a trained Birches Health gambling specialist today to have a conversation by clicking here.

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