A person who has a gambling addiction is at risk for negative psychological, personal, financial and social consequences. Symptoms of gambling disorder can also affect work, relationships and education. A gambling disorder is classified as an impulse control disorder and included in the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, Fifth Edition (DSM-5).
Gambling is the act of betting something of value on a future event with the hope of gaining something in return. This activity can take many forms, including lottery tickets, scratch-offs, video poker, and casino games. Gambling is often associated with drinking, and alcohol can lower inhibitions and increase the likelihood of risk-taking behavior.
People who gamble are prone to experiencing a high from the rush of winning, but they may also feel a low from losing. This is because the brain rewards a win with a release of dopamine, which is similar to the feeling that you get from eating a delicious meal or spending time with a loved one. Those with gambling disorders often struggle to find other ways to get these feelings and end up engaging in risky behaviors.
It’s important for friends and family members of someone with a gambling problem to recognize that their loved one has a serious addiction and offer support as they work towards recovery. They should talk with the person in a safe, private space and avoid criticizing or acting judgmental to prevent them from becoming defensive. It’s also essential that the person knows they’re being cared about, as this will help them open up.
When someone is struggling with a gambling addiction, they can lose touch with their family and friends, which can create tension in the relationship. To avoid this, it’s recommended that they maintain healthy hobbies and activities to keep their mental health in check. It’s also helpful to make sure that they are getting enough sleep and avoiding caffeine, which can trigger an addictive gambling habit.
A gambling addiction is difficult to overcome, and the person who has it will likely experience a lot of setbacks. It’s important for their friends and family to be supportive as they work toward recovery, but they should also be willing to let go of the relationship if it becomes too toxic.
To help their loved one, families can also manage family finances so that they’re not able to use them to fund their gambling habit. This might include setting up separate bank accounts, requiring signatures on withdrawals, and putting valuables in a safety deposit box. They can also encourage their loved one to seek professional help if they’re struggling. It’s also crucial that they don’t enable the gambling behavior by paying off debts or lending money. Instead, they can encourage the person to attend therapy and agree on acceptable behaviours such as staying within spending limits. They can also call Gambler’s Help to speak with a professional. This service is free of charge and can be accessed at any time, day or night.