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Supporting someone with a gambling problem

What to do if a friend has a gambling problem


Written by SpunOut | View this authors Twitter page and posted in health


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Problem gambling is when someone gambles continuously despite the negative impact it has on their life.

It can be hard to know what to do if someone in your life is a problem gambler, but there are things you can do to support them.

How can I tell if someone is a problem gambler?

It’s not always easy to tell if someone has harmful gambling habits, as many people who gamble hide it from others. Some ways to tell if someone has a problem with gambling are if they:

  • Talk a lot about gambling
  • Spend more and more money on gambling
  • Gamble for the thrill of it
  • Lose control over their gambling, spending more than they can afford
  • Spending more and more time on gambling and neglecting other parts of their life
  • Gamble when they are anxious or stressed
  • Can’t admit they have a problem
  • Don’t seek help until they have built up a substantial amount of debt

Learn more about the signs that someone has a gambling problem here.

What can I do to help?

If you’re worried about your friend’s gambling, there are things you can do to help.

Talk to them

Approach them and calmly tell them your concerns. Do this somewhere you both feel comfortable, where it will be easier to talk about it. Listen to what they have to say and don’t judge them.

Avoid judgement

Remember, gambling can be an addiction and people need help to overcome gambling. Let your friend know that you don’t judge them and you understand it’s a complicated problem.

Direct them to a service

There are professional services that can help people overcome gambling. You can read about them here.

A Gambler’s Anonymous meeting can be a good place to start. At these meetings, people who gamble can talk to each other in a supportive, non-judgemental environment.

Look after yourself

It can be really tough helping someone who is going through a hard time. Remember there is only so much you can do, and no matter how much you want to help, you can’t do everything. Look after your own mental health, talk to others about how you’re feeling, and do things every day that make you feel good.

There are a number of support services for family and friends of people with harmful gambling habits. These include:

  • Gam-Anon are an organisation who are linked to Gambler’s Anonymous. They hold meetings for family and friends of people with gambling problems, giving members the opportunity to listen to and support each other.
  • The Rise Foundation support the family members of people who have an addiction of any kind.
  • Problem Gambling Ireland also offer advice and support to family and friends. Around 50% of those who contact Problem Gambling Ireland are concerned friends or family members.

Feeling overwhelmed or want to talk to someone right now?

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Published March 9th2018
Tags gambling addiction
Can this be improved? Contact editor@spunout.ie if you have any suggestions for this article.
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