“Gambling addiction, also known as pathological gambling, compulsive gambling, problem gambling, or gambling disorder involves maladaptive patterns of gambling behavior that the individual persists with, despite negative consequences,” according to Elizabeth Hartney, BSc., MSc., MA, PhD. Gambling problem does not only distress the gambler but the people around him as well. It actually can lead to acute (sometimes damaging) results to people close to them. Debt and loss of property are imminent if anyone in the family is a gambling addict. The will lie and deceive their friends. Children are unkempt and are often the bearers of physical and verbal abuse.
However, all these have a solution and the power to fix it is in your hands. Friends and loved ones of a gambler are his motivational factors upon admitting his problems and hopefully in getting help. Find the things listed below as useful suggestions for family and friends of an addicted gambler.
Problem gambling cannot be recognized on the surface. According to psychologists Seyed Amir Jazaeri and Mohammad Hussain Bin Habil, “Gambling disorders are highly comorbid with other mental health and substance use disorders, and a further understanding is needed of both the causes and treatment implications of this disorder.” Most gamblers are in abjuration and are very good at hiding their gambling activities. However, if you examine narrowly, all the alarming signs are visible – personality changes, credit card bills bloated, lost valuables, and many more.
If you think someone has a gambling problem, the following are some warning signs:
- Talks about gambling all the time
- Becomes secretive and defensive when it comes to finances
- Comes up with desperate ways to get gambling funds
- Prioritizes gambling rather than have time for the family
- Neglects family responsibilities
- Gets irritated and impatient easily
The pain and aggravation of seeing someone suffer a gambling problem can result in a negative impact in your life being a loved one of a gambler. Do not blame yourself in any way. You cannot make him stop, but you can help him help himself.
Here are tips on the appropriate things to work on to help someone surpass gambling problems, a mental health issue.
- Equip yourself with knowledge about gambling addiction and problem gambling.
- Acknowledge the strengths of your loved one who’s a gambler and any progress from their end. Be calm and supportive if they want to change.
- Be firm in saying “NO” to problem gamblers and be sure not to give in.
- Gather your support group such as family and friends to analyze the problem better and in learning how to face its many effects together. It would be best if there were lots of encouragement for the gambler to keep him motivated for a lifestyle change.
- Safeguard your family when it comes to security – financially, emotionally, and physically.
- Changes don’t happen overnight. It requires patience, understanding, and effort. Know what triggers your loved one who is a gambler and learn to manage him every time he feels the need to play and gamble.
Be sure NOT to do these things:
- Blame yourself. Understand that the gambler will create arguments to justify their gambling and will blame anyone for it.
- Encourage heated discussions with the problem gambler
- Enabling a gambler by lending money or paying his debts.
- Cover up or make excuses for his behavior
- Allow any manipulations done by the problem gambler
- Expect a straightaway recovery as this takes time and patience
The first step to recovery is always the hardest. Gambling gives them a sense of high that’s why they like the feeling. Once the gambler expresses his regret, it may be the right moment to talk to him about the problem. If the gambler denies it, end the conversation. Do it again when the time is right. “As with any addiction, an addiction to gambling affects different individuals in different ways,” says Marie Hartwell-Walker, Ed.D.
Prepare and keep safe from the unpleasant effects brought about by your loved one’s gambling activities.
- Have a record of his loaned or borrowed money.
- Keep accounts (bank) and any other form assets from his access.
- Don’t assume his financial responsibilities by paying his debts using your own money.
- Ask help from professionals and suggest to him that he go to these specialists for support and counseling.