How to Help a Problem Gambler
Compulsive gambling can cause considerable strain on a variety of relationships, particularly between families, friends and colleagues. Problem gambling can in extreme circumstances lead to stealing, lying and cheating in order to conceal and feed gambling addiction. If you found this page it is likely you are currently experiencing problem gambling within your family or friendship circle or are struggling with gambling-related issues yourself. If so you’ll be familiar with the pain and anguish brought on by gambling addiction and eager to learn some strategies which may improve the situation.
It is reported that 1 in 200 people over the age of 16 in England are classified as problem gamblers (Gambling Commission). At Ocean Recovery in Blackpool our staff provide gambling addiction therapy on a continuous basis. We have amassed many different techniques in treating compulsive gambling addicts and we would like to share some of these insights below.
Here are six tips to help a problem gambler.
#1. Help the gambling addict come to terms with his or her addiction
Problem gambling has been proven in many circumstances to coincide with pscychological issues (Cowlishaw and Kessler 2016). It is important to stress that when a gambling addiction begins it can be extremely difficult for the individual to accept that there is a problem or that they require help.
Ocean Recovery offers gambling addiction intervention where our therapist will conduct a meeting with the gambling addict concerned and attempt to overcome resistance to the realities of his or her addiction.
At the very least you could consider recruiting the help of friends or family members in order to confront the person concerned. Resting the problem on several shoulders will give you breathing space in order to creatively develop an effective solution to the problem.
#2. Explore treatment options
Clearly to pursue this option you must have overcome #1 above. If you have overcome this important hurdle you are now advised to discuss treatment options with the person concerned.
Ocean Recovery recommends residential rehabilitation for gambling addiction. During this time the addict will live within the confines of our rehabilitation centre and not have access to ‘triggers of addiction’ such as certain people and places. Initial detoxification is followed by intense counselling and therapy sessions which aim to treat psychological components of gambling addiction. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy is utilised in order to overcome unhealthy gambling behaviours and arm clients with powerful coping strategies in order to fight off the impulse to relapse.
#3. Consider gambling addiction ‘self-help’ remedies
Be warned of the dangers of ‘self-help’ remedies as gambling addicts often lack the resolve to execute the below in the absence of professional support.
A list of self-help strategies include:
- Distract the addict with alternative activities until gambling cravings cease. This could include watching a film, going for a run or cooking a meal
- Seek support from family members or friends and arranged to meet up in an environment where gambling is not possible
- Attend a local Gamblers Anonymous meeting
- Avoid friends who encourage gambling addiction
- Avoid places where gambling is freely available such as public houses and betting shops
- Travel to a different environment so as to escape the environment associated with gambling. This could mean going on holiday or visiting friends or family in a different part of the country
#4. Take back control of family finances
This point mostly applies if the gambling addict is a close family member such as a spouse. Do not keep your eyes closed when it comes to auditing the finances. A gambling addiction could cause financial catastrophic and could lead to you losing your home and other possessions. Conduct a thorough review of credit card and bank statements to determine your liability.
#5. Avoid negativity at all costs
The gambling addict often has no control over their behaviour. Negativity will likely make matters worse, and so negative emotions such as blame and anger should be avoided wherever possible. Instead of lecturing the addict on his or her problem, instead try to maintain a position of trust and show that you understand their problems and concerns.
In a study analysing the success of gambling therapy 51.3% of patients dropped out of their treatment (Amanda Roberts, 2020), further emphasising the importance of providing long-lasting support to the individual and making regular checks on their progress.
#6. Be on the lookout for the signs of gambling addiction
Problem gambling can often begin with what appears to be less serious instances of gambling such as the national lottery. Around 7% of the population are said to currently gamble at levels which could be considered risky and may cause a more serious issue in the future (RC PSYCH).
Some signs to look out for which may indicate a gambling addiction include:
- Suspected addict lies in order to cover up his or her gambling activities
- You often hide money in order to conceal it from the suspected gambling addict
- Suspected addict often spends large quantities of cash without any explanation
- Suspected addict often goes missing for many hours without explanation
Contact Ocean Recovery for more information
If you would like to learn more about behavioural addictions such as gambling, sex & gaming as well as substance addiction call today on 01253 847 553 or text HELP to 83222. Our residential rehabilitation centre is based in Blackpool in the North West of England. Alternatively you are able to contact our centre by filling in the enquiry form.
John Gillen - Author - Last updated: January 13, 2022
John is one UK’s leading professionals in the addiction recovery industry. Pioneering new treatment techniques such as NAD+ and ongoing research into new therapy techniques such as systematic laser therapy, John is committed to providing the very best treatment for people throughout the UK and Europe. During his extremely busy schedule, John likes to regularly update our blog section with the latest news and trends in the industry to keep visitors to our site as well informed as possible on everything related to addiction treatment.
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