How to Help a Loved One With a Gambling Problem Stop Gambling and Control the Addiction
Do you love someone who seems to be out of control with a gambling problem? Maybe it is a subtle presence in his or her life that is having a negative effect, though on the surface, things seem fine. It may appear that he or she is not trying to deal with the addiction, may not even admit that there is one, but as the old saying goes, “Still waters run deep.”
Your loved one may want to stop gambling, but may not know how. There may be a great inner struggle going on and the last thing he or she needs is more pressure. Sometimes the pressure of having someone talk about his or her problem may be too much. It is best to let that person bring the subject up when the time is right according to their inner schedule and feelings.
You may be worried, but sometimes the only course of action is no action. You must take care of yourself and your own emotions and sort them out before you can help the other person. This means getting your own house in order and perhaps developing a few tools that may come in handy. A support group is one way to start preparing. Caring, open minded people with some knowledge of compulsive gambling, such as a Gamblers Anonymous group can help you to cope with your own stress and feelings.
One thing that you can do for your loved one, if possible, is to find activities or interests that you and both have in common. Sometimes a diversion is a good way to stop gambling. Something as simple as meditating together, taking a walk and enjoying the outdoors, or watching a movie, can help in several ways. First of all, any time spent doing anything but gambling is helpful because it means there is less time to feed the addiction. Secondly, building a bond between you means that when he or she is ready to talk about the problem and deal with it, you will be there and accessible.
There are no shortcuts to successful treatment of the problem. It is a progressive illness and the only way to control it is to stop. But you are not the one to make the decision of when to stop or how to control the gambling addiction. That decision can only be made by the one with the problem. I don’t recommend bringing up the subject but if your loved one does, by all mean be open and listen to what he or she says about it. By listening and showing you are open to communication, you are letting him or her know that you are there when the time is right.
If the gambling problem is causing too much stress for you or is starting to take over your life, even though it is the other person’s addiction and not yours, you may want to seek counseling or start attending Gamblers Anonymous meetings. You don’t have to wait for the other person to make the first move if the problem is becoming your problem as well. Sometimes it is a family member, friend or loved one who attends the meeting before the gambler does. You will find support there and people who understand what you and the person you care about are going through. Taking care of yourself and preparing yourself is one of the most important things you can do and just as your loved one has to deal with the problem in his or her own way, you have to deal with it in your way and also take care of yourself so that it will not ruin your life.