5 Ways to Help A Loved One with Gambling Problems
Gambling is a disorder in a person’s impulse-control that comes with a myriad of negative consequences affecting not only the gambler but also the people around them. If not addressed earlier, it could strain relationships and ruin a family’s chance to life and financial stability.
You can help a loved one overcome problematic gambling through the following:
Look out for the warning signs. Most gamblers hide their gambling problems due to shame and guilt, so it often goes unnoticed until the damages are extreme. The most non-intrusive way to help a friend is to open a conversation about gambling soon after you start noticing a pattern of questionable behaviours. These include a ballooning debt, lack of focus, sudden disappearance of valuable objects inside the house (e.g. jewellery, antiques, etc.), and being secretive about spending habits.
Do not tolerate gambling behaviour. Although the most obvious mode of assistance is monetary, refrain from loaning money to a gambler nor paying off their debts as this may reinforce the behaviour rather than eliminate it. Remember that gambling is a compulsion that cannot be resolved solely through negotiations. Encourage them instead to confront the consequences of their actions to gain a deeper understanding of the extent of the damages they caused.
Offer alternative ways to relieve gambling compulsions. When gambling hijacks a person’s reward system, it becomes their sole concept of pleasure. Thus, it’s important to help them seek other forms of entertainment as a substitute for gambling; perhaps, a lifestyle consisting of healthy socialisation with friends and family.
Remove visual reminders. Eliminate all possible physical cues inside the home that can easily be associated with gambling. This includes card games, chips, dice, etc. It is not uncommon for gamblers to make excuses for small bets, so it’s better to not give them any reason at all to engage in any form of gambling.
Encourage professional help. Your ultimate goal when helping a friend or family deal with a gambling problem is to encourage them to seek expert help. This is because, for any complex psychological health issue, an equally extensive intervention led by a trained and licensed professional. However, if these experts are unavailable, you can deliver Mental Health First Aid to the individual.
MHFA is the immediate care given to individuals struggling with a mental health crisis. It is aimed at preventing the person from causing further harm to others’ well-being as well as his/her own. For cases specific to gambling, knowledge on MHFA prepares you to spot the early warning signs of gambling addiction and properly reach out to the individual. Not many people know how to ask for help nor disclose their gambling problem. Thus, you must initiate a conversation.
A training on MHFA is only a four-hour session where you can further understand the risk factors of gambling, its symptoms, and the ways you can approach someone having this crisis. It also tackles self-care methods for when you’re assisting a friend or loved one who is dealing with a gambling addiction.
To learn more about this course, visit https://www.whsandtrainingcompliance.com.au/mental-health-first-aid-for-gambling-problems/.