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Gambling addiction, which is sometimes referred to as ‘problem gambling’ or ‘compulsive gambling’, can have a negative impact on a person’s life, and can also dramatically affect the people who are closest to them.  

If you’re worried that someone you know is struggling with problem gambling, there are a number of things you can do to help them. Spotting the signs of problem gambling early, and knowing what to do to support them, can make a huge difference. In this blog, we give advice on how to help someone with a gambling addiction, and provide information on the specialist gambling addiction help and support we can offer at Manor Clinic.

Learn as much as you can about gambling addiction

Unlike alcohol or drug addictions, there aren’t obvious physical signs that someone is addicted to gambling. As their behaviours may be more subtle and hidden, it is important to learn as much as you can about the signs and symptoms of gambling addiction so that you’re able to spot whether or not a person is struggling.

The availability of gambling websites and apps also makes it easy for a person to fall into problem gambling, and hide this from their loved ones. 

If you are worried about someone, think about whether you’ve noticed them doing any of the following:

  • Frequently gambling using either one or a number of different methods. These can include:
    • Buying lottery tickets
    • Betting at sporting events such as a greyhound or horse racing event
    • Betting in casinos
    • Betting on slots or quiz machines found in pubs or nightclubs
    • Online slots/roulette/poker
    • Online sports betting
    • Betting in a bookmakers
  • Placing bets even when they can’t afford to. Gambling addicts may end up gambling away their savings or inheritance, re-mortgaging their house or even stealing money to fund their habit
  • Placing increasingly risky and expensive bets at a more frequent rate. This might be because they’ve developed a psychological tolerance to gambling, meaning that they are having to ‘up the ante’ to experience the thrill they crave
  • Seeming obsessed with gambling and losing interest in other things that used to be important to them
  • Withdrawing from their friends and family
  • Concealing or downplaying the amount of time and money they spend on gambling
  • Becoming defensive about their gambling and denying they have a problem if you ever bring it up

If the person you know has been doing these sorts of things, this could be a sign that they are struggling with compulsive gambling and need specialist support.

Speak to your loved one about your worries

If you’ve noticed a person is showing the signs and symptoms of gambling addiction, it’s important that you try to have an open and honest conversation with them about your concerns.

Before you start this conversation, it’s important to understand that you may be met with denial or even anger. The person may become defensive and annoyed because they think you’re criticising them, and may refuse to talk to you. This is entirely normal so don’t become disheartened or discouraged if it does happen. Just because they don’t want to speak to you one day, this doesn’t mean they won’t open up to you later on. In this situation, it’s important to let them know that you have their best interests at heart and you’re always there to listen and support them.

When you do embark on this conversation, try to pick a time and a place that’s private and where the person feels safe and relaxed. You could suggest that you go for a walk together or have a cup of tea at home when no-one else is in. By choosing to have this conversation at a time when they feel comfortable, they’ll be more likely to open up to you about their gambling.

If you’ve never experienced addiction or a gambling problem yourself, you might find it hard to understand the person’s behaviour. This can make you feel angry and frustrated, especially if their gambling is having a negative impact on you and other people too. However, remember that addiction is an illness and your loved one needs help. Try to tackle it in a caring and sympathetic way. Gently remind the person that their gambling is affecting other people and you really want to help them get back on track. That way, they’ll be more likely to listen to what you’re saying and begin to recognise the destructive impact of their gambling, all of which can motivate them to get the expert support they need.

Help your loved one get the gambling addiction counselling they need

While the above points can support you when helping someone with a gambling addiction, the reality is that this condition will likely need specialist treatment in an addiction rehab centre.

You can help your loved one to get the expert support they need. You could offer to call a specialist addiction rehab centre, such as Manor Clinic, on their behalf, to discuss the specialist treatment that we can offer and develop an understanding of how we can help them take steps towards recovery and wellbeing.

Our high quality gambling Addiction Treatment Programme at Manor Clinic offers:

  • A free, no obligation addiction assessment at our Southampton clinic
  • Structured group therapy
  • A high quality family programme
  • Access to 12-Step support groups
  • Free aftercare for life
  • Free family support for life

When your loved one is in rehab for gambling addiction

At Manor Clinic, you can continue to help the person when they’re in treatment for a gambling addiction. You’ll be able to attend family sessions if appropriate (these are open to family members and close friends), and learn as much as you can about the gambling addiction treatment and recovery process.

When someone first enters treatment at Manor Clinic, visiting times are limited initially in order to give the person the time and space they need to focus on their therapy and recovery. It also allows their family some time for respite and reflection. However, after this initial time in treatment and with agreement from the patient and our multidisciplinary team, you’ll be able to visit your loved one; this is another way you can help someone with a gambling addiction while they’re in treatment.

With your support, as well as expert addiction treatment within our specialist rehab centre, they will be able to tackle their gambling addiction, and take steps towards the healthy, happy and fulfilling life they deserve.

This blog was reviewed by Sarina Wheatman, (Emotional Freedom Technique Master Practitioner (EFT), Federation of Drug and Alcohol Professionals (FDAP) NCAC), Addiction Treatment Programme Manager at Manor Clinic.

Finding the right rehab clinic for you is imperative. For more information on our alcohol rehab and alcohol detox services click here. Our specialist, Hampshire-based team of clinicians and counsellors, will help you to get your life back on track. 

Coronavirus information

While the current coronavirus restrictions and social distancing measures are in place, we are offering online support to both new and current patients. We continue to offer access to inpatient services where this is required. For more information on our online therapy service, please visit our Priory Connect page or read our latest online therapy blog. For the latest information on how Priory are responding to coronavirus, and keeping our patients and staff safe, please visit our COVID-19 preparedness blog.

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