Understanding the Causes of Gambling Addiction
When looking to help someone with a gambling addiction, it’s important to understand how they got where they are. All addictions are complicated, and there could be many possible causes. Some people gamble because they enjoy the thrill. Others gamble to relieve emotional turmoil, cope with stressful issues such as job loss or divorce, or ease loneliness or boredom. Some may gamble in hopes of solving financial difficulties. Problem gamblers may already have a substance abuse problem, or they attempt to relieve distress caused by anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, or ADHD. Experts think that those with a gambling addiction may have a genetic disposition for reward-seeking behavior, or have personality traits such as impulsivity or competitiveness.
Gambling Addiction Is a Progressive Disorders That Get Worse Over Time
Researchers have learned that gambling stimulates the brain’s reward system in much the same way as drugs or alcohol. The same is true for other behavioral addictions, such as shopping, video games, pornography, or binge eating. Like a person with a substance abuse disorder, compulsive gamblers develop a tolerance and will need more risk or higher stakes to reach the same “high.” They may experience cravings, anxiety, irritability, depression, insomnia, or other withdrawal symptoms when they aren’t gambling.
How to Help a Gambling Addict
If somebody you care about has a gambling problem, it’s time to sit down and discuss how your loved one’s gambling addiction affects you and others. Be prepared for pushback, and don’t take it personally if your loved one gets angry or defensive. Problem gamblers may deny they have a problem, even when it’s evident to everyone else. Prepare for the discussion by learning about compulsive gambling, and look into possibilities for treatment. Visit your local library, search online for reputable websites, or talk to addiction professionals in your area. Most states provide helpful information or free treatment. Many are affiliated with the National Council on Problem Gambling, Be straightforward, but don’t lecture, blame, judge, beg, or criticize. Stop and pick up the conversation later if things get contentious, or if you feel frustrated or angry. Most importantly, be patient and supportive and let your loved one know you care. Accept that there may be setbacks and that depression, anxiety, or other issues may arise.
Beware of Enabling a Problem Gambler
Your loved one needs to take responsibility for their gambling problem, and this may never happen if you protect them from the natural consequences of her behavior. Don’t pay bills. Don’t loan or give money. Don’t make excuses, and don’t cover up or justify their behavior. Don’t feel ashamed, guilty, or responsible, and don’t let them place the blame on your shoulders. You may think you’re helping by constantly bailing your loved one out of trouble, but you’re actually removing motivation to change.
Best Tips to Stop Gambling
If you’re a compulsive gambler, or you know someone who is, here are some actionable ways to try and control a gambling addiction.
- As with any addiction, the first step is admitting there’s a problem and making a serious commitment to change. This is easier said than done, especially if gambling has strained relationships to the breaking point. Be honest. Acknowledge the trauma and emotional pain gambling has caused.
- Own up if your gambling problem has caused financial hardship, if you’ve depleted your savings, or if you’ve turned to fraud or theft to support your addiction. Accept that your loved ones are angry, afraid, or disappointed, and be willing to see a marriage counselor or family therapist.
- Turn your finances over to somebody you trust. Cut up your credit cards and keep only enough cash for small purchases. Close online gambling accounts and delete gambling apps on your phone. If you’re having trouble staying away from computer gambling, use a blocking tool. If necessary, make an appointment with a debt counselor to help you get your finances back on track.
- Don’t engage with gamblers in person, online, or on social media. Stay away from casinos, race tracks, bars, or any other places that may tempt you to gamble.
- If you feel a strong urge, stop and think about why you feel compelled to gamble. If the craving feels overwhelming, wait at least 30 minutes. A half-hour may feel like forever, but if you hold on, cravings often ease. Distract yourself by going for a walk, reading, or some other activity that distracts you.
- If you miss the excitement, get involved with a challenging activity, such as running, high-intensity physical training, or rock climbing. If you gamble to relieve stress, learn healthier ways of relaxing, such as deep breathing, yoga, or mindfulness meditation.
- Reach out for help. Contact state-sponsored resources or gambling addiction help in your area. Check into a treatment center or rehab, and consider joining a Twelve-Step program such as Gamblers Anonymous. Seek help if you’re struggling with substance abuse or other issues that make it harder to stop gambling.
Treatment: Gambling Addiction Programs
Treatment for gambling addiction is similar to treatment for any other addiction and usually includes education, support groups, and counseling. A doctor may prescribe medications to curb the cravings, or for depression, anxiety, ADHD, or bipolar disorder. Treatment may be residential or outpatient.
Call Today for Gambling Help
Gambling addiction is a complicated disorder that affects thousands of people in the United States. If you or a loved one is struggling with a gambling problem, give us a shout. Call us at (866) 971-5531, or contact us online and we’ll discuss treatment options.
- How to help someone with a gambling addiction
If you are worried about a family member or friend, we have outlined how to help someone with a gambling addiction. Taking steps to help them sooner rather than later is the best approach. Opening up and starting with an honest, non-confrontational conversation is paramount to getting them started on the road to recovery, and making sure that the illness no longer has such a devastating impact.
What is a gambling addiction?
It is important for family and friends to understand compulsive gambling if they want to help someone with a gambling addiction. Recognising that the person will have a continuous urge to gamble is crucial. This urge will often be so strong, that everything else within their life now comes second. Their work and education, relationships, finances and health will all be taking a back seat due to the incredible pull of gambling. It is also important to recognise that it is something that they are currently powerless over. While they may have previously made promises about stopping, deleting gambling apps or blocking themselves off websites, gambling is likely now something they can’t simply stop without professional help.
Encourage professional treatment for gambling addiction
When looking to help someone with a gambling addiction, one of the most important things that you can do is encourage them to get professional treatment for their gambling symptoms. Understandably, you may be concerned about having this conversation, fearing that the person will become angry, deny that they have a problem or retreat further into their addiction. Here are a few tips to think about to help you have an effective conversation:
- Talk in private with no distractions when both of you are calm — this will encourage them to think clearly and listen to what you have to say
- Express the impact that their gambling is having on you and other people without placing blame — the person may not recognise the impact that their gambling has on other people, so explain to them how their behaviour is affecting the people they are closest to
- Remain calm and compassionate – they are likely to be ashamed of their problem. Rather than chastising or blaming them, which could cause them to put up barriers, explain that you’re concerned as you’ve noticed that they aren’t doing activities they once enjoyed, seem to owe people a lot of money or always seem short of cash
- Actively listen to them — give them the chance to talk. If they become angry or deny that they have a problem, ask them to have a think about their gambling and let them know how you want to help them
- Focus on the fixes rather than problems — discussing solutions and possible avenues of support can help to show that you care and are willing to work with them. Doing so can also help them to see that there is a way out of their gambling addiction
- Be prepared to be met by a range of emotions — while some people are instantly relieved to be able to open up about their gambling addiction, others may become angry and dismissive. Preparing for these emotions can give you the opportunity to think about how you will react
- Be patient — give the person time. Having these conversations can often act as an initial seed that causes a person to reflect on their gambling, see that they are not alone and recognise that there are ways to get help. If they aren’t ready to talk about it just yet, remind them that you are always there to talk to and will work with them to get control of the situation
Get a free gambling addiction assessment from a Priory rehab clinic
When talking with the person about possible support for their gambling addiction, you may want to mention the free, no obligation addiction assessment* that they can receive at Priory rehab clinics. The assessment gives the person the opportunity to see whether or not they do have a problem and need help. Visiting a rehab clinic for the assessment also gives them a chance to meet with the team who will help them to get their life back on track. From your initial phone call, our team work as efficiently as possible to make sure that the process from assessment to treatment is smooth and discreet, helping the person get the support that they need as swiftly as possible.
Make sure that you get support for yourself
While figuring out how to help someone with a gambling addiction, it is important to spend time thinking about how you can safeguard your own health and wellbeing. Firstly, make sure you look after the basics. Maintain a good sleep routine, eat well and set time aside for yourself. Living with someone who is struggling with an addiction can be incredibly draining, so dedicate time and energy to keeping yourself well. Also keep your social circle strong. Keep in contact with family and friends, and make sure that you have a handful of trusted people who you can go to when you want to talk about the gambling addiction. Trying to stay silent can be incredibly isolative, and have a damaging effect on your own health and wellbeing. You may want to make use of groups like Gam-anon, which have been set up to help wives, husbands, partners, siblings, children or friends of compulsive gamblers. Going to the meetings can help you to recognise that you are not alone, and provide you with the space to hear others’ experiences, get advice and share your own thoughts and feelings. *Individuals with dual diagnosis may need to be assessed by a consultant psychiatrist which is a chargeable appointment.
Know what they’re going through
Quite often, a person who is struggling with their gambling may feel like they have little or no control. Learn about what they might be going through so you know the best way to help.
How to talk to someone about their gambling
It can be difficult to know what to say to someone who’s gambling. Often they might not see that they have a problem, or they may be convincing themselves that they have their gambling under control when they don’t. If you’re worried about someone’s gambling, the below advice might help you approach the topic with them: When speaking to someone about their gambling, it’s important to let them know that the reason you’re concerned is because you care about them. If they feel they are understood, they are more likely to talk openly and honestly, which will allow you to develop and negotiate a plan together. Although it may feel difficult to do so, try to be positive with your communication, and avoid saying things that might come across critical or cause confrontation. Explaining how you feel might help to lessen the gambler’s defences and keep the conversation open. You could try using ‘I’ instead of ‘you’ to avoid sounding accusatory. We’ve written a few examples to help you start the conversation, but remember to be yourself, so your conversation sounds natural and genuine.
- I’ve noticed you’ve been gambling a lot recently and it’s starting to make me worry.
- You’re my friend and I care about you a lot which is why I’m saying this. I’m upset because I’ve seen you do things that are really risky.
- I can see you’re not happy at the moment and that upsets me. I want to help.
- I love you and I don’t want you to hurt yourself. Talk to me about what’s going on.
Once you’ve started the conversation, be patient and listen carefully to what they say without being judgemental. Try not to interrupt when they’re talking, as this might stop them from wanting to talk, or make them defensive. It’s important to be calm and caring, but be careful not to allow them to make excuses for their gambling. If the gambler is under the age of 18, see our advice on ‘how to help a young person’
Key steps to take financially
To be extra safe, it’s a good idea to make sure you’re protecting your own finances too. Keep your passwords private and protect your joint accounts. If someone you know is having financial difficulties because of gambling, they may find it useful to use gambling blocking tools. You could also encourage them to speak to their bank, as there may be a number of ways they can help too.
Avoid rewarding gambling behaviour
Giving or lending money to someone who gambles could make their problem worse. Instead, think about setting up a system that rewards positive behaviour instead. For example, you might consider not lending money if they continue to gamble, however, if they cut back or stop gambling you could offer to conditionally help to pay off a bill.
Keep in mind that when the gambler has paid all their debts, this can be a time when they are vulnerable to relapse.
For example some gamblers may begin convincing themselves that once the debts are paid off, a small gamble may be acceptable.
Make sure you’re looking out for you too
If you’re worried about someone’s gambling, you might also be feeling angry, hurt or betrayed. It can be difficult dealing with these emotions, but it is completely normal. However you’re feeling, it’s important to not blame yourself or the other person. Gambling is an addictive behaviour, and gambling disorder is a recognised medical issue that can develop because of a number of reasons. There are many ways you can help someone who gambles, but remember, it’s not your job to change their behaviour. There are many support services available to help a gambler, and if you’re struggling, there’s help and support for you too.
- How to evolve charmeleon
- How to see if your computer has a trusted platform module tpm chip
- How to give emotional support
- How to start hormone replacement therapy (male to female)
- How to make a video game boss