How to Help Someone Who Developed a Gambling Addiction

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It can be hard to lend a hand to beloved one who developed a gambling addiction, especially if they don’t want to admit they have a problem. Let us state it as clearly as possible: there’s nothing wrong in betting some money in online casino games now and then. However, when the urge to gamble becomes so overwhelming and uncontrollable that a person starts burning through all his or her savings, then something must be done as soon as possible.

Compulsive gaming is a real problem, and it is recognized and classified as a progressive disease by the ICD-10-CM (International Classification of Diseases, Tenth Revision, Clinical Modification). Once the necessary signs that indicate that the normal enjoyment of playing casino games has become unhealthy, action must be taken immediately to increase the chances for a successful recovery.

Make sure that person really has a problem

It is important to tell the difference between pathological gambling and a normal betting habit. Some signs may help you determine if someone is out of control and really needs help. Possible symptoms of a serious compulsion include:

  • An uncontrolled urge to gamble money that cannot be stopped
  • Propension to lie or to hide gambling habits to other people
  • Spending more money on betting or casinos than one can afford
  • Betting habits preventing that person from working or practicing a hobby
  • Gambling gets in the way of personal relationships
  • Resorting to crime such as stealing to earn enough money to gamble
  • Asking for loans to cover outstanding debts

Respect the gambler’s privacy

If you’re a family member or friend of someone who developed a gambling addiction, it may come natural to start asking for help in online groups, forums, and social media. However, you should always be extra careful at hiding his or her identity at all costs. Do not identify that person directly or indirectly, and try to avoid providing unnecessary details such as the city where you or that person live, or the place where he uses to play. If the patient finds out that someone is talking about his problem in public, you may jeopardize your chances to earn his trust.

Talking to someone with gambling issues

The first thing to do to help someone with a gambling problem is talking with them. Use truthful and constructive statements that connect you with the other person to help you establish a positive connection. Try to listen how they are feeling to let them feel safe and free to talk. Low self-esteem and isolation can make it challenging to confront a person with a gambling addiction, so try to keep the conversation as pleasant as possible and avoid any accusatory or confrontational tone.

Refer them to a professional

People with gambling problem should be ultimately referred to professional support. Receiving adequate treatment in the form of psychological therapy is a fundamental step in recovery. You should always encourage them to get help from counselors, therapists, or self-help groups. However, don’t press that person too much, especially if you can’t get a straight answer or commitment. Gambling may have affected them to the point they’re not ready for a change, so you should be patient and supportive at all times. Aggressive, deceptive or judgmental behaviors may trigger the opposite reaction and make that person even more defensive.

Article edited and fact checked by our editorial team.


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