How to Help Your Loved One Overcome a Gambling Addiction

Gambling involves wagering something of value on a chance event with the intent to win another thing of value. It can be done privately in a home setting, such as card games, or publicly at casinos or other venues. It can involve any type of wagering, including betting on sports events or horse races, playing poker or bingo, or even making friendly bets with friends over cocktails at the bar.

A small number of individuals become too seriously involved in gambling and experience adverse personal, social, and family impacts. These individuals may be classified as problem gamblers. Approximately 2.5 million adults (1%) in the United States are estimated to have a serious gambling problem, and an additional 5-8 million (2-3%) are considered mildly or moderately problem gamblers. Pathological gamblers exhibit many negative impacts, including distorted emotions and impaired thinking. In addition, they may engage in a variety of unhealthy behaviors to cope with their losses, such as preoccupation, denial, and chasing their gambling losses by escalating their gambling involvement.

Although the majority of individuals who gamble do so responsibly, the occurrence of problem gambling is on the rise. Several factors are associated with the development of problem gambling, including a lack of social support, peer pressure, and cultural expectations. Additionally, young people’s brains are not fully developed until the age of 25, making them more susceptible to developing both good and bad habits.

There are several ways to help your loved one overcome a gambling addiction. Speak to a professional about local referral resources such as certified gambling counselors and intensive treatment programs. Set boundaries in managing money and take control of family finances, including reviewing bank and credit card statements.