Gambling can be both addictive and harmful to health, relationships and finances. If someone you know is struggling with gambling addiction, it’s important to encourage them to seek professional assistance by suggesting professional therapy sessions and financial solutions such as restricting credit cards usage or setting up direct debit payments with banks for bills; or restricting how much cash they carry with them. It is also advisable to separate personal from joint accounts so funds remain safe from being put at risk.
Be patient as they may be reluctant to discuss their gambling addiction; show understanding while persuading them it’s a serious matter. Suggest they visit their GP who may refer them to a counsellor that specialises in gambling addiction.
Your suggestion could include attending a group therapy session where they can share their concerns with people in similar situations and talk with a professional counsellor about coping strategies, motivation and moral support from others in similar circumstances. They will also learn about different forms of gambling disorder as well as triggers and root causes. Eventually they may develop new coping skills and alter their outlook regarding gambling.
Avoid lending money to someone with an addiction to gambling as doing so could exacerbate their financial issues and may make their problem worse. While tempting, bailing them out of debts might seem appealing; in reality this will do more harm than good and could actually backfire against any efforts at controlling or stopping gambling altogether as this adds additional pressure for winning back losses.
Encourage them to talk openly and without judgment with someone they trust – be it friends, family or professionals – about their problems. Discussing feelings is sometimes hard but doing it can ease pain associated with bottling up emotions and suppressing them. Also encourage healthier ways for them to cope and enjoy themselves: exercising regularly, spending time with non-gambler friends or engaging in hobbies that relieve discomfort such as meditation.
People with gambling issues must experience the negative repercussions of their actions before becoming motivated to change them. Though this can be painful to witness, you must resist the urge to cover their debts or shield them from the repercussions of their actions. Encourage them to seek professional financial and gambling addiction counselling help rather than taking on their debts or loans themselves, to reduce any retaliation and help them address their issues more objectively and healthily. This may prevent retaliation by others and provide an avenue for therapeutic growth. If they refuse to seek help, if necessary you could request that their bank place gambling restrictions on their account. This would prevent them from using credit or EFTPOS cards for gambling purposes and prevent future misuse.