It’s on TV, on the internet, on smartphones, and at casinos. Everywhere the opportunity arises, people are gambling. And the odds your friend knows when enough is enough is slim. With a gambling problem, they could hurt their financial stability, career opportunities or even serve jail time.
While your friend’s well-being and safety aren’t always your responsibility, it’s your job as a friend to have those difficult conversations with them. And when you see your friend suffering from problems resulting from excessive gambling, it’s your responsibility to say something and offer help in finding solutions. .
There is hope for problem gambling. And the first step to finding help begins with you.
Signs to Notice
Lying: People who gamble say or do just about anything to cover up their tracks. When confronted about gambling, they lie to avoid the topic.
Influx or loss of money: How did your friend afford that new piece of jewelry or expensive clothing? Where did their paycheck go? If you’re having a hard time keeping tabs on large amounts of money coming in or going out, gambling might be the cause.
Borrowing money: Has your friend borrowed money from you for reasons that were difficult to explain? It’s possible that gambling is the problem.
Stealing: If you’ve caught your friend stealing or trading their possessions in exchange for money, there might be an issue.
Chasing wins: Have you witnessed your friend gambling more to win back losses?
What to Say
Be Forceful, but Positive: What you say to your friend matters just as much as how you say it. Use positive, hopeful, inspiring language when talking to your friend.
Express Concern: Many people who gamble aren’t aware of the impact their gambling has on their family, friends or others. Show your concern for them and appeal to them emotionally.
Ask Open-Ended Questions: Don’t just preach—have an open-ended dialogue with them. Ask open-ended questions such as “what do you think?” to engage with them.
What Not to Say:
Making Judgements: Addiction is a disease, and making sweeping judgements about your friend is a hard thing to avoid. Don’t be judgemental. What would you like to hear if you were in their shoes?
Using Labels: Don’t assign labels when speaking to your friend. They’re not addicted to gambling, they’re a person struggling from gambling issues. Use hopeful, embracing and accepting terms instead of confining, harmful ones.
Steps to Take
Before you have a conversation with your friend, find a resource to recommend to them. It’s not fair to confront someone without having a next step. When the time is right, have a firm but loving conversationabout your choice to have them seek help. Make sure you use encouraging and non-judgemental languagethroughout your conversation. And—above all—be a friend, not a preacher. They need your help, not your admonishment, and it’s your job to get them the help they need.
State Problem Gambling Resources:
Let your friend know that they can call 1-800-betsoff to have a confidential conversation with a behavioral health professional who can connect you with resources in your area.
Finding the Right Resource
Everyone who is trying to defeat their issues with gambling needs a resource to help. Problem gambling may not be something your child can conquer by themselves. When determining the right place to send your friend, consider these four things:
- Is the behavioral services facility CARF accredited?
- Are they committed to enhancing your quality of life?
- Can they help your friend meet their personal recovery goals?
- Can they create a custom recovery plan to help them on their recovery journey?
The journey to manage problem gambling may not be quick, but it’s an important mission. There is hope, and your friend can find help at Prelude.