Playing the slots is fun but when it becomes the main focus in someone’s life, it’s time to take action.
Trying to fight a gambling addiction on your own is hard. Sometimes seeing a friend suffer through theirs is even more difficult. You want to confront them about it, but you don’t wish to hurt their feelings or worse, risk losing your friendship. There’s a fine line to toe when it comes to offering unsolicited help.
What’s the best course to take? Check out these 5 characteristics of problem gamblers, and advice on how to offer help:
1) Lying to Cover Up
Sometimes your gut tells you the truth, and it’s different from what others claim.
If you know a friend or relative is lying about how much money they gamble or how frequently they go to the casino, it’s likely that they have a problem.
2) Not Setting a Limit and Sticking to It
Does your friend avoid setting a spending limit at the casino? Or, rather, do they set one but always surpass it?
It’s OK to go a little over-budget once in a while, but constant overspending at the slots or tables can lead to a lot of lost money and the development of compulsive behavior. If your friend sees the sky as the limit on each outing, it could be time to talk.
3) Spending More for the Same Excitement
A classic characteristic of addictions is needing more of the same drug to get the same high. In the case of gambling, this means spending more money for the same level of excitement. It could be helpful to remind your friend that setting a dollar limit before placing any bet is a good safeguard.
4) Going to the Casino Above All Else
Gambling is good fun, as long as you have other hobbies and interests as well. If gambling all someone does for fun and a person consistently pushes aside other activities and obligations in order to hit the slots, there’s likely a gambling addiction at play.
It could be time to suggest trying a new activity together or joining a new social club once a week.
5) Borrowing Money
Last but not least, when someone constantly borrows money and they’re gambling, it’s because they’re chasing their losses and trying to get back what has disappeared.
Sometimes gamblers lose it all and then gain everything back and more. Sometimes. Much more often than not though, individuals end up tossing away what might be their life savings and more, without reward.
Getting someone you love to stop while they’re ahead, or at least only somewhat behind, can be a lifesaver.
How to Offer Help
One of the best ways to start helping a friend is to approach them in a concerned way. You want to keep the conversation light and avoid sounding judgmental. You don’t wish to accuse the person of “bad behavior” and harmful habits as they could become defensive and back away.
Instead, confide in the person that you are worried about their behavior. You may not get a positive reaction, but you may be surprised to find they realize there’s a problem and are grateful you brought it up.
Talk with the person about seeking professional help. Offer to help find a solution that can work for them, and express the fact that you’re there to help, no matter what.
Related: Coffee Addiction All in the Genes
Of note: a gambling problem can occur in just about anyone. It’s more common in men though, and can affect those who have a competitive spirit and like taking risks.
Sometimes the medications used to treat Parkinson’s disease and restless leg syndrome can have a rare side effect that results in compulsive behaviors that lead to gambling as well, according to the Mayo Clinic.
For more information on helping someone you know, click here.
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