Helping a Loved One With a Gambling Problem

Gambling involves betting money or something else of value on an event whose outcome depends on chance. People may gamble by placing bets or wagers on sports, casino games, or lottery games. In addition, people can also gamble with other materials that have a value but not real money, such as marbles, pogs, or trading cards from games like Magic: The Gathering. Some forms of gambling can lead to addiction. For some people, this can cause serious problems at work and home, strain relationships, and even result in financial ruin.

It’s important to know the facts about gambling so you can help a loved one who is struggling. Learn more about the risks of gambling, including its effects on your brain and body. Then, discuss your concerns with the person and help them find treatment.

Many types of gambling are available, from video poker to slot machines to the lottery and horse racing. Each has its own risks, but no single form of gambling is more addictive than another. It’s also important to remember that there is no such thing as a sure bet, and that even the most experienced gamblers can lose.

There are a number of effective treatments for gambling addiction, including cognitive behavioral therapy and family therapy. It is also helpful to address any underlying mood disorders, such as depression or anxiety, that may be contributing to the problem. Often, these disorders are made worse by compulsive gambling and can continue to contribute to the problem even after the person has stopped playing.

If your loved one has a gambling problem, it’s important to understand why they do it so you can offer support and encouragement. They may be gambling for social reasons, or because they enjoy thinking about what they would do if they won the lottery. They may also feel a rush or high when they gamble, which can be hard to resist.

The more you understand why they are doing it, the easier it will be to help them break their habit. You might suggest that they try to focus on other activities and take regular breaks from the game. Also, remind them to never chase their losses — that is, they should stop trying to recoup what they have lost by spending more money on the same game. This is called the gambler’s fallacy and is a common trap that can lead to bigger losses.

If you think a loved one is addicted to gambling, be patient and encourage them to seek treatment. It’s important to get help for a gambling problem before it gets out of control, as it can strain relationships and interfere with work or school. Talk to a therapist and consider seeking support groups, such as Gamblers Anonymous. In addition, physical activity can help reduce the urge to gamble.