Can Alcohol Withdrawals Kill You?

How to Help Someone With a Gambling Addiction

Sivana Bali is a world-class addiction treatment centre in Canggu, Bali, that offers care for a variety of substance use disorders and co-occurring mental health conditions, as well as process addictions such as gaming addiction, shopping addiction, and gambling addiction, among others.

An Overview of a Gambling Addiction

Gambling addiction is not the act of gambling itself. Plenty of people gamble, and not every gambler is a gambling addict. The difference between a gambler and a gambling addict is the ability to stop. Most people can play with a few hands of cards and be done with them. But a gambling addict can’t stop. It doesn’t matter if they win or lose; they will want to place another wager or play another hand of cards. 

It is almost impossible for a gambling addict to stop gambling. Some have convinced themselves that their luck will turn and that they are due for a big payday. But, more often than not, winning only encourages their behaviour and compels them to gamble more because they believe if they win once, they can win again.

The Consequences of a Gambling Problem

Gambling addiction can come with several consequences. The most obvious of which are the financial consequences. Gambling addicts can lose savings, retirement funds, and even their houses as a consequence of their addiction. Like many addictions, it can strain interpersonal relationships. A gambling addiction can also exacerbate mental health conditions such as anxiety and depression.

How to Spot a Gambling Addiction in a Friend or Family Member

A gambling addiction can be hard to spot. With an alcoholic, you can observe how much they drink. With drugs, you can sometimes a high can cause a person’s pupils to dilate. Because there are no illicit substances involved, there are no physical symptoms of inebriation to look out for. You just have to closely observe their behaviour when the opportunity to make a wager is presented to them.

Because the act of gambling itself is not indicative of an addiction, you need to be able to differentiate between a person who enjoys placing a wager every now and again and a full-blown gambling addict. There are several signs that you can be on the lookout for, such as:

Experiencing Withdrawal When Not Gambling

Gamblers who do not gamble do not really care about it. However, a gambling addict will experience genuine emotional distress and may even go through withdrawal symptoms if they do not get to gamble.

Financial Difficulties

A common sign that someone has a gambling addiction is if they experience financial difficulties. They may start asking to borrow more money and make excuses as to why they can’t pay you back. If you visit their residence, you may notice a lack of groceries and overdue bills.

You may also notice a change in their spending habits. It could be that they’re trying to be more frugal, or it could be that they’ve developed a gambling habit and are in debt.

They Obsess Over Their Phone

Online gambling is a major phenomenon, and there are websites and apps for it. If someone you know suddenly starts checking their phone constantly, it could be a sign that they’re checking scores or races to see if they made winning wagers.

How To Help Someone With a Gambling Problem

Helping someone with an addiction is a delicate process. You want them to realise the hurt that they’re causing to themselves and you without triggering them into more self-destructive behaviour. You want them to take responsibility for their actions, but you don’t want to sound like you’re accusing them of anything.

Be Empathetic When You Talk to Someone About Their Compulsive Gambling

When you talk to someone with a gambling addiction, you need to be empathetic. You have to remember that addiction is not a character flaw or a moral failure; it’s a disease. While it is true that addicts ultimately choose to engage in their self-destructive behaviours, there are some genetic and social factors that can lead them to make that choice. 

It’s also important to not use the word ‘you’ too often when trying to get someone to stop gambling. Using the word ‘you’ can make whatever you say sound accusatory. People get defensive when they feel like they’re being attacked. You don’t want the person you’re talking to to get defensive; you want to be calm and open to hearing what you have to say.

Remember to Stay Calm

Another thing to remember when speaking to a compulsive gambler about their addiction is that you have to remain calm. Talking to someone about their addiction can often get tense, and things can escalate if you don’t stay in control. Remember not to push the issue, either. You may want to discuss their addiction and the possibility of treatment, but people who compulsively gamble may not want to hear whatever it is that you have to say.

When you speak to someone with an addiction, make sure to emphasise that you care about them and only want what is best for them. You may want to write everything down in a letter or practice what you want to say beforehand.

Protect Yourself

If you share finances with a gambling addict, then you need to separate your finances as soon as possible. Gambling can ruin people’s savings and even make them lose their houses. Ensure that you’ve got money tucked away somewhere safe and that it is only accessible to you. 

If you need to, speak to a financial advisor or a lawyer to see what your options are to protect yourself from a loved one’s gambling disorder. You may feel guilty or that you’re abandoning them, but you must also remember to look out for your own well-being. 

Get Help From a Professional

Talking to a professional can also help you educate yourself on the nature of a gambling addiction and how to best approach someone.

Other than education, they can also help you help your loved one. An intervention is one of the most impactful ways that you can help someone with an addiction. This is when you and other loved ones gather together to confront an addict, not because you’re angry at them but because you want to get the point across that they need help. 

However, an intervention shouldn’t just be friends and family gathering together. You should seek the service of an intervention specialist. Interventions can go wrong in a number of ways, and people can sometimes let their emotions get the better of them, so having an interventionist there to keep things focused on the task at hand can be incredibly helpful.

Understand That You Can’t Force Someone to Change Their Gambling Behaviour

One thing that you have to understand is that it’s not up to you. You can implore your loved one to seek professional help to control their urge to gamble, but it will ultimately be up to them to decide whether or not they want to stop or if they want treatment.

You can hold your hand out to someone but can’t make them take it. Whether or not someone gets help for any addiction is their decision. You can encourage them to seek help, but you can’t help someone who doesn’t want it. At the end of the day, the two of you are free to make your own choices.

Call Us and We’ll Help You Help Your Loved One

It can be hard to watch someone that you care about lose themselves to an addiction. You can feel powerless, and like there’s nothing that you can do to stop them from going down a bad path. But there is something you can do. You can contact us, and we can begin helping you help your loved one start a transformative process that helps them break free from addiction.

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