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How to Help Someone With a Gambling Addiction

Posted on February 22, 2022

How to Help Someone With a Gambling Addiction

For those people supporting someone with a gambling addiction, it might be really hard knowing what to do for the best.

How to Identify if Someone has a Gamblng Addiction

Although there aren’t exact, scientific reasons why someone might develop a gambling addiction, there are many well known and common factors that often lead to an eventual problem.

There are a number of genetic and environmental factors at play. However, the main warning sign is when someone starts to lose control.

Other signs might include:

  • Money going missing (that’s actually being spent on gambling)
  • Falling out with close friends, colleagues or family members
  • Troubles in the workplace
  • Being unable to stop gambling
  • Acting suspicious and lying
  • Asking for loans and more money
  • Stealing money
  • Craving the need to take more risks in life

It’s important that you can recognise a gambler when you see one so that you’re able to help them.

It’s also important to understand that there are lots of underlying factors that might contribute to someone becoming a gambler. Such as depression, anxiety, trauma or feelings of guilt or helplessness [1].

How to help someone with a gambling addiction [2]

Below we’ve listed a few ways you can help someone you believe is suffering from a gambling addiction.

1. Try to Understand What They’re Going Through

As previously mentioned, a person is likely to develop a gambling addiction because they might be experiencing, or recently experienced feelings of depression, anxiety or helplessness.

It’s important that you understand addiction, but also these underlying factors just as much.

So, read up on anxiety and depression so that you can help the individual target the problem at the route of the cause.

2. Be Open and Talk to them Calmly

When someone you know and love is suffering, and all you want to do is help, it’s difficult knowing what to say.

You might worry that they don’t want to talk about it with you, or that you’ll make them feel uncomfortable.

However, if you think their gambling is becoming a serious problem then you should broach the conversation calmly with them.

You should also start with why you’re concerned or worried about them, then they’ll know that it’s coming from a place of care and love.

You should then go on to say that you understand the underlying causes that have led them to their addiction. Show your knowledge and any examples. This way they will know that they’re understood.

Then you should continue to ask open-ended questions about their situation and addiction. This way they’ll know that you genuinely want to understand how they feel even more.

From then on, you can work together to form a plan of action.

It’s important to remain positive in your communication style so that you don’t come across as confrontational or judgemental.

It’s also a good idea to avoid using the word ‘you’, in case you come across as accusatory or judgemental.

Protect Your Finances and Encourage Them to do the Same

If you’re a close friend or family member to the individual with the addiction, then it’s important to protect your own finances as well as encourage the individual to do the same with theirs.

You should keep your bank details private and any key passwords protected.

If they’re suffering from a serious gambling addiction, then they’re likely to be suffering from financial issues and will ask family and friends for financial help.

Sometimes they’ll ask, and sometimes they might steal. If you are willing to lend them money, then make sure you keep a thorough note of everything you’ve lent them.

Write this down, and keep it somewhere safe.

You could also suggest that they protect their own finances by using certain bank accounts or using a gambling blocking tool.

You could also suggest that they speak to their bank who may be able to put things into place for them and their finances.

For example, you could offer to help them keep on top of their bills in terms of organisation (ensuring that they’re paying their mortgage or rent on time, for example).

This will ensure that by the time they get over their addiction, they haven’t lost everything, including their home [1].

By offering to keep on top of their finances by organising their bills and even offering to keep their rent and utility bills money in a safe place for them until they’re due, they’ll have a better safety net for the future.

Avoid Any Rewarding Behaviour

Although you might be tempted to lend loved one money when they ask, this could be considered rewarding behaviour. In other words, it might convince them to continue and make the problem even worse.

You should, instead, set up a system of rewarding positive behaviour. An example of this could be agreeing to treat them to a nice present or surprise if they abstain from gambling.

Helplines for Someone with a Gambling Addiction

If you want to help someone with a gambling addiction, but are worried that you’ll say or do the wrong thing, then you could always suggest they speak to a gambling helpline.

This way, they’ll be able to talk to specialists in the field who can put them on the right track to getting help with their problems.

It’s now proven that gambling addiction can be treated just as successfully as other addictions are, and CBT therapy is often the best way to do so [1].

Here’s a list of helplines and support groups who are available day or night who will be able to offer support and help:


GamCare is a great service that offers help, support and general information for those suffering from gambling addiction in the UK.

They even offer free, face to face counselling whilst also running a national gambling helpline.

Phone number: 0808 8020 133

The National Centre for Behavioural Addictions

The National Centre for Behavioural Addictions [TNCBA) is a collection of charities and helplines that are all dedicated to helping people suffering from any form of behavioural addictions.

They also run a clinic for young people suffering from an addiction.

They’re open for anyone who lives in either England or Wales (as long as they’re over 16) and has a complex problem related to gambling.

Here’s a link to see if you meet the criteria.

The Gordon Moody Association

The Gordon Moody Association carries out courses for anyone who’s suffering from an addiction to gambling.

As well as face to face meetings, they also offer online support for gambling addicts and their families, colleagues and friends.

Phone: 01384 241292

Gambling Anonymous UK

Gambling Anonymous run a series of local support meetings that structure themselves very similarly to the well-known group Alcohol Anonymous (also known as the AA).

Phone numbers:

National: 0330 094 0322

North-East: 07771 427 429

North-West: 07974 668 999

Ulster: (028) 7135 1329

Support Groups for Friends and Family Members [1]

If you’re affected by someone else’s addiction to gambling, then there are help and support groups out there for you.

It’s very important that you tell the friend or family member who is suffering that you’re also suffering too so that they know how their actions and behaviour is affecting you and other people.

It’s important that you look after yourself as well as the individual suffering. After all, how will you be able to look after them when you’re suffering too?


GamAnon also offers support groups and meetings locally all over the UK for family and friends.





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