25 Ways To Help Someone Through Gambling Addiction Recovery
Annual profits for the gambling industry in the United States are around $40 billion.
For those who fill an emotional need or seek euphoria through gambling, a lot of help is necessary to overcome the driving need to gamble.
Helping a true gambling addict to recognize they have a severe problem is the first step towards gambling addiction recovery, but they will need ongoing support to make it to the other side.
Through it all, continue to be patient and encouraging while always maintaining a non-judgmental attitude.
That will help no matter which ways you find work the best for helping a loved one to recover from an addition to gambling.
- 1. Identify signs of the problem
- 2. Don’t judge
- 3. Learn the difference between problem gambling and addiction
- 4. Understand the causes, contributing factors and personality traits related to gambling
- 5. Research treatment
- 6. Learn which treatment methods are more effective with different people and why
- 7. Prepare for a negative reaction
- 8. Talk to them about the issue
- 9. Explain the probable consequences
- 10. Discuss treatment options with the gambler
- 11. Encourage them to get help from a professional
- 12. Use honesty to encourage honesty
- 13. Address the issue of the debt associated with the problem
- 14. Be supportive during their treatment
- 15. Help them avoid situations where gambling is popular
- 16. Discuss the option of medication
- 17. Encourage the gambler to attend a support group
- 18. Be prepared for the gambler to rationalize and excuse the habit
- 19. Understand relapse and why it may happen
- 20. Watch for secretive behavior that may indicate relapse
- 21. Stay involved in their life to encourage them to overcome the habit
- 22. Encourage healthy choices to help avoid gambling
- 23. Manage gambler’s finances to remove ability and therefore curb temptation
- 24. Introduce distractions and healthy hobbies to help gambler avoid the addiction
- 25. Keep the problem in the open and make others aware to help address the habit
1. Identify signs of the problem
The first step is to look for many signs that come with compulsive gambling, which is where the issue occurs.
Lying, theft or other illegal activities, as well as a constant need to increase the stakes are signs of compulsive gambling and a serious problem.
Hiding the extent of their gambling habit or how much money is involved are also key signs that the problem needs to be addressed now.
2. Don’t judge
Prepare for a defensive reaction and be clear that the concern you have is not about judging their behavior.
Use “I” statements and ask if other parts of their life seem to be in need of attention.
Above all, make sure to let them know that you care – repeatedly.
3. Learn the difference between problem gambling and addiction
Problem gambling is behavior that disrupts your life.
Addiction means gambling is uncontrollable for you.
You are suffering from an impulse control disorder.
This means that no matter how much money you have, how it will affect loved ones and whether you are currently winning or losing, you keep gambling.
Causes for gambling can range from a stressful day and a desire for a distraction to the need for a rush or a means of social interaction.
Knowing the main reason that a gambler turns to the habit can make it easier to find substitute behaviors to suggest and help the gambler utilize instead of gambling.
5. Research treatment
There are different avenues of treatment for gambling.
It is possible to work on treating the habit and problems at home.
Seeing a therapist in the company of the family can be helpful in an effort to resolve issues with gambling.
There are treatment centers that have programs for those who can’t stop themselves from gambling.
Typically, gambling occurs with an underlying condition, and the underlying conditions being treated can help with the gambling as well.
Finally, there is Cognitive Behavior Therapy or treatments with medication that can be recommended and managed by professionals for those who might benefit from these treatments.
6. Learn which treatment methods are more effective with different people and why
Medication can be helpful for treating underlying conditions like depression anxiety or ADHD.
CBT or therapy with the family can be helpful for those with social anxiety, the desire to interact in a healthy manner with others or those dealing with significant amounts of stress.
Each person has a different set of triggers and related factors for their gambling problem.
Different therapies can be effective once the causes are narrowed down.
7. Prepare for a negative reaction
Gamblers do not like to admit they have a problem.
Since that admission is so difficult, they are not going to want to stop gambling, much less seek treatment.
It is best to be prepared for their negativity and even the anger they may direct at you.
8. Talk to them about the issue
For those who are close to the gambler, an honest conversation is a must.
This will be difficult, but with preparation and a straight-forward, caring approach it can be done.
For those who are not close to the individual, the conversation should be with someone who is close to them.
9. Explain the probable consequences
Let the gambler know that there are some big potential issues that can arise if they continue feeding their habit.
Running out of money, legal issues and losing family due to the addiction are all key factors to mention.
It is also a good idea to remind them that gambling can be fun, but there comes a time when the fun has changed to serious addiction and problematic behavior.
10. Discuss treatment options with the gambler
Talk to the gambler about the possible causes for their gambling addiction.
Treatment options can start out with things like therapy and work toward inpatient programs or other methods if initial efforts fail.
For those who know that they have a serious problem and won’t be able to get past it on their own, then inpatient treatment and complete isolation from venues and gambling opportunities is the best option.
Talking to the gambler may provide some insight that can not be gained otherwise.
This makes it easier to address the problem and encourages their cooperation because they were consulted and feel their opinion is valued regarding their own shortcomings.
11. Encourage them to get help from a professional
With gambling, it is important to work with a professional.
This is particularly important because it allows an outside professional to determine the underlying causes and what treatments are required.
A professional is also objective, which is very important in situations of addiction, which causes very strong emotional reactions from loved ones.
The professional can provide the most accurate analysis of the situation, why the gambling is such a problem and how best to address the addiction and be able to move past it.
12. Use honesty to encourage honesty
Modeling is important for adults as well as children.
This is an important factor when considering a key factor in gambling situations, which is a lack of honesty.
It is important for people in a gambler’s life to be honest, even when they have bad days or backslide.
This encourages the gambler to be honest and let people know when they are struggling with the desire to gamble.
13. Address the issue of the debt associated with the problem
Gambling means money disappears fast.
Sadly, no one who gambles tends to get on a winning streak and stay on it.
Therefore, it is important to make the gambler very aware of what the addiction costs the family, any loved ones close to the gambler and the gambler themselves.
Money can be a huge incentive to quit gambling, because it is a finite resource.
It does not replenish itself, so the bank account doesn’t magically grow when no one is looking.
14. Be supportive during their treatment
Gambling can be a challenging problem to overcome.
As with any addiction, it is usually a big part of the gambler’s life and takes up a lot of their time.
When it comes time to address the problem and change the behavior, it is easier to do when others are there to help distract and refocus the gambler.
It is also not helpful when loved ones are judgmental and negative toward the gambler, as that tends to increase the chances of a relapse.
Those who overcome addiction successfully do so with an active support system, understanding family members and determination on the part of the gambler and those around him or her to push through and succeed no matter what.
15. Help them avoid situations where gambling is popular
Encourage the gambler to find other places to spend their time.
It is key to help them avoid the gambling venues they frequented in whatever manner necessary.
If they have a bad habit of stopping in just to see what’s going on, help them choose routes that do not go near the gambling venue when traveling to pay bills or complete other tasks.
16. Discuss the option of medication
Medication can be helpful to those with a gambling addiction.
Their addiction may be tied to compulsive behaviors due to a mental illness.
This mental illness may not be controllable through behavior modification or effort on the part of the gambler.
This is where medication can come into play.
When the underlying conditions are controlled with medication, then the gambling problem can be the sole focus and gain better results.
17. Encourage the gambler to attend a support group
For some, gambling is a way to have social interaction.
Regardless of whether that is a factor in a gambling habit, however, the decision to join a support group provides understanding, positive interactions and a way to spend time that keeps the gambler away from gambling venues.
Let the gambler know that joining a support group can be a beneficial way to take giant steps forward in the effort to overcome addiction.
18. Be prepared for the gambler to rationalize and excuse the habit
Gamblers spend a lot of time telling themselves their behavior is acceptable.
When confronted about the consequences and seriousness of their behavior, they are likely to try to give you the same reasons they tell themselves it is fine.
It is common to hear that gambling is not a problem if the gambler can afford the losses.
This may or may not be true, but it is a clear example of the fact that many people are more than willing to give reasons that gambling is an acceptable way to spend one’s time.
19. Understand relapse and why it may happen
In the case of an impulse control disorder like compulsive gambling, it is more than making a choice to change the habit.
It is also a lot of hard work, which means the process is a struggle.
Relapse is a common part of the process of overcoming addiction.
While it is not optimal for the gambler’s success, it should not be taken as a sign of ultimate failure either.
20. Watch for secretive behavior that may indicate relapse
Lying or leaving with no explanation are good indications that gamblers are relapsing.
Be suspicious of excuses for extended solo trips out of the house.
Frequent and lengthy “shopping trips” where nothing is purchased is a sign that something else may be going on.
21. Stay involved in their life to encourage them to overcome the habit
Gamblers are more likely to backslide when the loved ones in their life aren’t around during the day.
In order to encourage the success of the gambler in overcoming the addiction, it is best to keep in touch and make sure they are engaging in better decision making.
Let them know you are proud of their progress and encourage them after a backsliding incident to start fresh and try harder.
22. Encourage healthy choices to help avoid gambling
Physical activity, mindfulness and meditation and various hobbies that increase social interaction are all healthy ways to spend time.
Decisions, time and environment are all key factors to being healthy and avoiding temptation.
Choose to make better decisions that don’t involve gambling.
Schedule your time so you don’t have the opportunity to go gamble.
Finally, encourage the gambler to stay away from locations where temptations surround them. Remind them that if they can’t see a game or other activity to gamble on, it is harder to gamble.
23. Manage gambler’s finances to remove ability and therefore curb temptation
Taking control of the finances helps ensure the gambler does not have easy access to funds to spend on their addiction.
This keeps things on track when they do have an incident of backsliding.
Knowing when the money is spent and how much means it is addressed faster and efforts are made to avoid letting it happen again.
24. Introduce distractions and healthy hobbies to help gambler avoid the addiction
Physical activities like hiking, mountain biking and rock climbing can be helpful hobbies to introduce to someone struggling with gambling.
The physical activity can be helpful as a distraction and also a new hobby allows them to narrow their focus to a new subject.
Counseling, a class like public speaking or volunteering at a worthwhile cause can be helpful because they connect the gambler to others in a positive social manner.
Meditation, deep breathing and hobbies that involve reading, music or art are all worthwhile considerations for new hobbies for the gambler as well.
25. Keep the problem in the open and make others aware to help address the habit
Make everyone aware that there is a gambling problem.
Keep communication open with other family members and let them know how they can help the person with the gambling problem overcome their addiction.