Estimated to impact about 10 million Americans, gambling addiction is a serious problem that can have a major effect on a person’s mental health, finances, and family. While individuals with this type of dependence may appear to be playing games, they are caught in a dangerous cycle that could leave them penniless or more likely to ignore mental health concerns. If someone you know is struggling with this matter, here are a few common questions and answers on how to help those with problem gambling.
How Can You Recognize a Gambling Addiction?
Unlike other types of dependencies—such as drug and alcohol addiction—gambling may not have a noticeable direct effect on one’s health. As such, it’s important to look for other common behaviors associated with problem gambling, such as:
- Exceeding a budget at the casino.
- Missing work due to gambling.
- Stealing or asking for loans to cover debts.
- Gambling in secret.
- Presence of other mental health concerns—including depression and anxiety.
What Are the Stages of Change & How Can You Help During Each?
Like other addictions, the path to recovery from problem gambling involves several stages of change and growth. Depending on where your loved one is in the process, you may need to adjust your approach to help.
In the beginning, the individual may deny the problem or not be willing to change. At this stage, you can address the issue with sensitivity by discussing how the activity impacts your life and your family. You should avoid gambling-related activities and refrain from providing financial assistance. If the individual is particularly resistant to the idea, it may be necessary to stage an intervention.
Eventually, the individual may become curious—but unsure—about how to address the behavior. During this phase, you can help by answering their questions, exploring treatment options, and providing emotional support.
Once your loved one agrees to get help, spend some time with them looking into appropriate programs and mental health services that can provide answers and treatment.
At the final stage, they will acknowledge the problem and take steps to maintain a healthy lifestyle that abstains from gambling activities.
What Treatment Options Are Available?
There are many ways to address this condition.
Most individuals start with counseling, where they can talk with a trained specialist about their actions and the possible motivations behind them. From there, they can explore other potential solutions—such as residential or outpatient rehab and, if necessary, prescription medication.
Providing comprehensive addiction recovery solutions—including rehab and counseling—in Lorain, Medina, and Erie Counties, The LCADA Way is a leading resource for those addressing problem gambling in Northeastern Ohio. Staffed by skilled counselors, this provider will help you or your loved one understand the patterns of gambling addictions and how to maintain recovery. To learn more about their programs, visit this center online. For questions about openings or how to arrange support, call the Lorain, OH, location at (440) 989-4900.