How Not to Enable a Gambler

How Not to Enable a GamblerFor many people gambling is a psychological disease: addicts simply cannot resist their urges to wager, even when it destroys their family, finances and self-respect. Many compulsive gamblers must hit rock bottom before they admit to their problem and seek help. Friends and loved ones often inadvertently enable a gambling addict, which means harmful behaviors continue longer than they must. If addicts are ever to appreciate the pain they cause through this disease, they must face the facts of their addiction.

Symptoms of Compulsive Gambling

The following symptoms of gambling addiction are painfully obvious to everyone but the gambler:

  • Risking money that he doesn’t have (gambling on credit)
  • Defensiveness when confronted about gambling
  • Secret gambling
  • Frequent urges to gamble online

If left untreated, compulsive gamblers will lose money until they lose everything they have. Depression commonly develops and may include self-harm, substance abuse or even suicide.

How People Enable Gambling

Any behavior that allows the gambler to continue in her habit or avoid the consequences of her actions enables the disease. Enabling includes any of the following actions:

  • Loaning money
  • Providing free housing, food or other basic needs
  • Making light of compulsive gambling
  • Covering for the compulsive gambler at work or school

Specialized counseling can help the loved ones of a compulsive gambler recognize the disease and avoid enabling it.

How to Help a Gambling Addict

While it might seem loving to bail your friend out of the consequences of gambling, the truth is that the best thing to do may be painful. Watching your loved one face the consequences of his actions is extremely difficult, but in the end he may thank you for taking a stand on his behalf. Your relationship may suffer up front, but you don’t want to find out that your actions made his condition worse. You can help a gambling addict in any of the following ways:

  • Call our toll-free helpline for confidential advice
  • Attend specialized counseling sessions to learn how to help both your friend and yourself
  • Establish and enforce healthy boundaries related to gambling
  • Communicate your concerns to him in love

Some gambling addicts avoid confrontation and may retreat when challenged about their disease. In these cases, a formal intervention may be in order. Our counselors are available right now to answer your questions, as they are available 24 hours a day at a toll-free helpline. The call is completely confidential and the advice is reliable. You have nothing to lose, so call now to help your loved one.