A gambling problem is a scary thing to come to terms with. If you suspect someone you love has a gambling problem, it can be hard to know where to start.
We’re going to give you some of the common warning signs of gambling problems. And then you can try to identify if you’ve seen those signs in your loved one. But keep in mind, if you are worried at all, don’t ignore that feeling. You should still seek help if their gambling makes you uncomfortable.
1. Do they find it difficult to stop spending?
If they often lose the run of their spending, particularly while gambling, this can be a big warning sign.
2. Do they spend a lot of time gambling?
While most people gamble for a relatively short amount of time in their week, some people can spend hours upon hours gambling. This can be an indication they have an issue.
3. Do they lie about their gambling?
If they try to hide the fact they’re gambling from people or lie about it, this can show they are covering up a larger problem.
4. Do they borrow or even steal to fund their habit?
No one should ever gamble with more than they can afford. People who borrow money in order to gamble, simply shouldn’t be gambling. And, of course, stealing is an even worse sign.
5. Does gambling cause friction in their relationships?
Whether it’s with you or someone else they’re close to, when gambling is a constant source of arguments and conflict in general, it’s not good.
6. Are they becoming increasingly withdrawn?
Is your loved one cancelling plans with family and friends and becoming more and more insular? This might mean they have or are developing problem gambling.
7. Have they lost interest in their hobbies?
Similarly, we all need a variety of things to keep us going in life. If gambling begins to eclipse hobbies and activities they used to enjoy, that is a bad sign.
8. Has their work or studies began to suffer?
Constantly calling in sick to work or university, underperforming in areas they used to excel in, failing exams, missing deadlines, getting cautions. All of these things indicate something major is happening in their life. If that is gambling, it needs to stop.
Answered yes to any of these questions? Get the help you and your loved one needs
The sad truth is that you cannot force your loved one to stop gambling, even if you suspect they have a gambling problem. But you can talk to them frankly and honestly about their concerns and encourage them to get the help they need.
Before you have that difficult, but necessary, conversation, seek some help from expert organizations. They are here to support you and have appropriate resources to help you start this conversation.
If you’re in the United States, the National Council on Problem Gambling can help online or via phone on 1800 522 4700. For those in the United Kingdom, visit Be Gamble Aware or call 0808 8020 133. And for other countries and regions, here’s a comprehensive list of international gambling help websites.
And remember, if you know your loved one has a problem and they are still gambling online, you can contact that gambling website directly via customer services to voice your concerns and, potentially, get their account shut down.