How to help a gambling addict
Relative guide

Do you have a gambling addict close to you, or do you suspect somebody has a gambling problem? Does it feel lonely? Have you tried everything, but nothing works? This guide is for you!

  • Is gambling addiction invisible?
  • How to avoid co-dependency?
  • Next action – Powerful action plan

Do you feel lonely? Millions ask themselves daily what is wrong in their relationships, worries about a partner, and risks their health to help addicts close to them. Some are already part of the QG community.

In this guide, we’ll show you “the invisible signs” of gambling addiction, aid you with the tools you need to act, and a next action list, so you know what to do. We’ll also warn you of the dangers of co-dependence and show you ways to avoid it! After reaching the bottom of the page, we hope you feel hopeful and determined to change the situation.

This guide consists of 4 parts:

  1. THE INVISIBLE SIGNS OF GAMBLING ADDICTION
  2. HOW TO AVOID CO-ADDICTION
  3. HOW TO START TALKING ABOUT THE PROBLEM
  4. TAKE ACTION – A STEP BY STEP PLAN

Gambling addiction
and Gambling problems?

On QG, we believe pain is the cause of addiction. Drugs, alcohol, and gambling are just ways to escape the pain. It’s the escape people get addicted to. We use the term pain, as a collective for all the feelings and experiences we don’t want to have; like loneliness, stress, anxiety, negative self-belief, etc.

Perhaps you have some experience of the relief alcohol can give. For many, gambling has the same effect. We believe, there is an upside to addiction. (Perhaps, that explains why it’s so hard to quit) An addiction is the brain’s defense mechanism against pain. For a compulsive gambler, that defense is gambling. In short, we define gambling addictions as:

OUR DEFINITION OF GAMBLING ADDICTION

If a person who experiences some kind of pain feels an urge to gamble, then he/she is a gambling addict.

Most gamblers aren’t addicted, but they might have problematic gambling behavior. In Sweden with 10 million people, about 3% show signs of problem gambling, while about 0.3% or 30K suffer from severe gambling addiction.

As a relative, it’s important to understand the difference between gambling problems, and gambling addiction since we meet different challenges when we try to help them.

  • For a problem gambler, the problem isn’t yet severe enough. It means that it’s easier to deal with, BUT, the person might not see gambling as a problem yet either.
  • A compulsive gambler often knows he/she has a problem, which makes it easier to admit. BUT, the addiction is so strong that it’s very difficult to get rid of. 

As you can see, each case poses different challenges. We recommend the article about addiction where we discuss the connection between why a person gambles and the risk of developing a problem.

In essence, if the prime motivation to gamble is to win money, then we believe the person has problematic gambling behavior.

How To See The
SIGNS OF GAMBLING ADDICTION

Compared to alcohol problems, it hard

For you, a relative, the signs to look for are the same for a problem gambler and gambling addict. The signs might just be clearer since the problems are larger for the compulsive gambler.

Compared to alcohol problems, it is harder to discover gambling problems. The alcohol smells, and the person gets intoxicated. A compulsive gambler doesn’t smell and isn’t acting drunk.

But, there are some signs you can look for. Here are the most common:

  • You have a feeling that something is wrong, the person seems troubled and worried. When you ask about it, you only get evasive answers.
  • Changes in behavior, the person can develop mode swings, and easily gets upset or feel restless.
  • The person hides something and spends a lot of time alone.
  • Sleeping problems, the person sleeps poorly. It’s a common symptom of inner anxiety and stress.
  • Sleeping problems, the person sleeps poorly. It’s a common symptom of inner anxiety and stress.
  • Spends plenty of time gambling, you notice physically that the person is gambling a lot. 
  • Isolate himself from social activities. Avoids family gatherings, after works and meet friends.
  • Problems completing things on time. When the person spends too much time gambling, it’s hard to manage things like work and social duties. The person will often postpone things.
  • Ask about money; need to borrow money, get reminders for old invoices, and gets problems with debt.
  • The person talked about gambling in the past but has suddenly stopped. 

Maybe, you’ll notice some of the signs above, maybe not. In any case, DON’T PUT ANY BLAME ON YOURSELF if you don’t see anything. Most addicts are experts at hiding their problems!

  • Write down things happening around the person you suspect have gambling issues.
  • Register yourself in the QG Community. Chat and discuss with problem gamblers or relatives of them.
  • Confide in another relative of the person with gambling problems. It could be a family member, partner, close friend, or associate. You don’t have all the information. Find someone that can help you, help the addict.
  • Study gambling. Read about online gambling to get a basic understanding of online casinos, poker, and sportsbook. It will help you at a later stage.
  • Be extra attentive to things concerning money; invoices, reminders, loans…
  • Think about yourself! Avoid falling into the co-dependency trap. (more about that later)

You’re not spying! You’re not going behind someone’s back! You’re not betraying the person! REMEMBER, the person wants to be exposed!

It’s crucial to talk with another relative. That way, you’re not alone, you get some support, and together, you can get more information.

For a co-worker, it’s hard to observe the behavior at home. Likewise, it’s difficult for a spouse to see how the person behaves at work. If you worry the person has taken loans; ask family members or close friends to the gambling addict.

4 tips on how you can get more information:

  1. Check your bank accounts if you share login details with the person (or ask someone that does)
  2. Check the person’s credit records. There are services for that online. 
  3. Check the mail for reminders and old invoices.
  4. Look for gambling apps on the computer and the person’s phone. (be extra attentive) In the image on the right, you’ll find 24 popular casino apps.

If you keep an eye out for signs, and actively take action to understand what is going on, you have already come a long way. Before you talk with the person, we want to put focus on you! Because you’re probably in greater danger than you think.

What is
CO-DEPENDENCE?

To discover that someone close to you has gambling problems can get severe consequences for you too. In the beginning, you might feel anger, disappointment, betrayal, and grief. You might think the person is irresponsible, selfish, and that you’ll never trust him again.

However, it’s easy to let the feelings for the person take over and fall into a co-dependency. We define co-dependence like this:

“Co-dependency is a condition that can occur in a person who lives close to an addict.
Since the person doesn’t know how to handle the addiction, she starts to adapt to rather than counteract it.”

What are the signs of co-dependence/co-addiction?

  • Cover up financially for the addict. For instance, pay debts and invoices to protect the person with a gambling problem. It’s also common to loan money to the person.
  • Defending the behavior of the addict to.
  • Feeling responsible for the behavior of the addict.
  • Unhealthy boundaries, the co-dependent person might have limited personal limitations and let the addict bully them around.
  • Put the needs of the addict ahead of their own.
  • Easily over-engage themselves and are attracted to people with special needs.

Spontaneously, it feels like a co-dependent person is a fantastic human being, doesn’t it? What’s wrong with caring about another person? Why is co-addiction dangerous?
The problem is the negative pattern one falls into.

It’s a destructive pattern that often leads to self-blame. It, in turn, leads to the following symptoms:

Two important reasons for depression are feelings of powerlessness and meaninglessness. If you become co-dependent to an addict, you’ll not help the person stop… Instead, you’ll make it easier for the addict to continue.

5 Ways
How to avoid CO-DEPENDENCY?

01. Get help

Become a member of our anonymous Community. Get support and tips from other relatives to gambling addicts.

03. Dare to act

Be brave and do something about the problem. Even if it feels hard, even hopeless, it doesn’t have to be like this anymore… ACT NOW!

05. Never accept bad behavior.

You mustn’t allow any response from the gambling addict. Set the bar high and make sure that it’s followed. If not, that bad behavior may become normalized.

02. Put yourself first!

Like the instructions before take-off in an airplane. You must place your oxygen mask over your face before you can help anybody else!

04. Set up rules

Set limits and demands. Be tough, but don’t come with empty threats. You must be strict to be taken seriously.

How to confront someone with gambling problems?
3 THINGS TO DO TODAY!

t’s scary to confront anybody with anything, especially if it’s someone close to you. How do you start? What can you expect? Is there any help to get?

Naturally, is it individual how people react, and many facts can affect the outcome. Someone with gambling problems often has a limited understanding of their issues. Therefore, he’ll deny everything. You might hear that you are exaggerating, mind your own business, you’re boring, or the person might attack you back…

A gambling addict doesn’t most often know about his problem. He can’t handle it, but he knows he has a problem. It might be easier to talk with the person then, but the price of waiting so long can be very high…

  1. Register to our Community. Talk with and get support from both other relatives and addicts. Ask as many questions as you wish!
  2. Read through our guide about hard discussions
  3. Send our introduction video to the person with gambling problems. That way, you forewarn him about your awareness before the actual confrontation.

QuitGamble.com has two parts. As a member, you get access to software that effectively blocks all gambling sites. It’s easy to install and impossible to delete during a period. It gives the person fantastic support if the urge to play strikes him.

In the second step, we analyze why the person got addicted in the first place. We don’t believe there is a lack of intelligence nor any illness that causes addiction. It’s other factors, and we intend to help the person to find them. Read more about this process in the Happiness Test, on the page about addiction.


All members at QuitGamble.com can access the chatroom and forum. There you can discuss people with gambling problems, and relatives. You will also find plenty of material created to help the gambling problems to turn around their lives. We want to make reality more attractive than the world of gambling.

The difficult
Conversation

Let’s change the header to “The important conversation” instead. Of course, it is a tough conversation, but the focus should be on the importance of it. Let’s begin with a question: What are you most afraid of; How will the person react? Or how you will react?

Here are some common fears:

FEAR OF CONFLICT

FEAR OF ANGER

FEAR OF DISAPPOINTMENT

FEAR OF GETTING HURT

FEAR OF BREAK UP

FEAR OF PAIN

FEAR OF ACCUSATIONS

FEAR OF RETALIATION

We are all afraid and insecure sometimes. It’s completely natural and an important reason why humans have survived through evolution. Our intention is not to make you anxious… We want to make you mentally tough, prepared for what can happen, and give you some advice on the way. Did you ever read The Brothers Lionheart by Astrid Lindgren? If not, read it! There is a great quote in there:

There are things you have to do, even if it is dangerous. Otherwise, you’re not a human being but just a piece of dirt” – Jonathan Lionheart

If Jonathan can do it, so can you! It might not be dangerous to talk with a person with gambling problems, but it can be tough anyway.

WHAT ARE THE ALTERNATIVES?

WHAT HAPPENS IF THE ADDICT CONTINUE PLAYING?

You risk falling into a co-dependency. You may start to cover up for the person. And the price can be high… not just financially but also mentally. (Read the text about co-dependency again). If you’re married to the person, you may become drowned in debt too.

If the gambling addict doesn’t get stopped, the fall on the Gambling addiction curve will continue. At the end awaits personal ruin, unmanageable debts, lost friends and relatives. Gambling addiction is the addiction with the most suicides.

Did we scare you? Sorry, but it was just an attempt to get you to put on your superhero dress. You can be a hero, the hero that saves the person from a catastrophe!

You Can
MAKE A DIFFERENCE!

Preparations

Often the person with problems denies everything. They are blaming everything else, or think the problem is exaggerated. According to the definition of a gambling problem, the person has not understood the complexity of the problem yet.

For you, this is both good and bad news. The good news is that it’s much easier to quit gambling at an early stage. The aftermaths of the problem are moderate. The bad news is that the person has a limited understanding of the problem itself. Frankly, it will be harder to convince the person to quit gambling.

EXTRA TIP

We recommend that you study different aspects of gambling. When you become more familiar with the subject, it will also be easier to understand counter-arguments from the person with gambling issues. For instance, it’s easier to talk about the attractiveness of a slot machine if you have tested playing it yourself. (only with play money of course)

A good start is to read our article, “Can you win at gambling?” You can also Google any of the following search terms:

  • Online casino (Understand the following terms: casino bonus, free spins, slot machines, live casino, and jackpots)
  • Slot machines (Play for free in Play Mode without opening any accounts)
  • Poker (The most popular game is Texas Hold’em.)
  • Blackjack in a bar.

Your task during the conversation is to encourage the person to talk. Ask open-end questions to get the conversation started. Remember that the person (at least deep inside them) wants to tell. Nobody feels good about lying to family and friends. Listen and let the person do the talking.

You can boost the person by saying you thought it was something worse, like: “I felt it was something wrong. At first, I thought you had an affair; after that, I was terrified you kept a secret decease from me. Even if I feel disappointed right now… I’m happy it wasn’t anything worse. We can handle this together! ”

The way out of addiction begins with reconnection. By making reality more meaningful, the dream world becomes less attractive. The result? The urge (the craving) to flee to the dream world disappears.

It’s not gambling the person is addicted to… it’s the flight from reality. Gambling is just a means to facilitate the flight.

Focus on reconnection

If the conversation focuses on the negative things and turns into accusations, it might get the opposite effect of intended. If the person is called irresponsible, selfish, and you punish the person and fill them with shame, you have only made the reality worse… and conversely the dream world more attractive.

Good questions to get the conversation started:

  • How does it feel now?
  • When did you start gambling? How did you feel then?
  • What was it that attracted you?
  • How did it feel when you started losing control?
  • Did anything particular happen around that time?
  • Do you want to quit gambling?
  • Do you want some support?
  • How do you want to continue from here?

The questions are formulated to get the person to think, to feel, and start talking. To show that you’re serious about helping the person you can suggest the following.

Join the Community

Register on QuitGamble.com and share the story. It’s incredible how supported the members are.

Check it out

Access the social platform, forum, and our courses. Ask questions, or chat with people in the live chat.

Share with your close one

Look at courses together, the platform is built to help both relatives and compulsive gamblers.

Take Action
STEP BY STEP

You must read everything above before you start with the next action list below. Here are our recommendations for you today!

1. Focus on yourself first. (Remember the oxygen mask)

  • Stick to your routines. (take walks, meet with friends, cook food, workout…)
  • Read through the pages about “Addiction,” “Can you gamble and win?”, and “Tricks of the gambling companies.” It will give you a head start!
  • If you want, you can register as a member and ask questions to other relatives. While you get help, you also become an essential part of their development process.
  • Write down a list of things you’ll do to avoid becoming co-dependent.
  • Spend some time reading about online casinos, sports betting, and poker. It will give you a better understanding of the subject.

2. Pay attention to the person.

  • Is there anything wrong? What warning signs can you identify? Monitor the behavior for some weeks? Any changes? Put extra attention to things that regard money.
  • Ask questions about how the person is feeling. Try to come up with ideas of things you can do together. That would both distract the person and give you a chance to spend time with him.
  • Ask another relative for help; the partner, close friend, family member, or co-worker. Ask them to be extra attentive for various warning signs. Recommend them to read through this guide.

3. Take the conversion!

Sit down with the person and tell them about your concerns. If you want some extra support, ask another relative to join the conversation. Use open-ended questions to get the person talking. Try to avoid sounding accusing. Start from the beginning.

4. Plan for the future

  • You mustn’t lend out money to the person. If you cover up financially, the person will not take responsibility for his actions. You’re only doing him a disservice.
  • Help the person to install a block app like Gamban or Betfilter.
  • Push the person to become an active member of QuitGamble.com. QuitGamble.com is an online community for people with gambling problems to support, encourage, and benefit from helping each other.
  • If the person has vast loans with high-interest rates, help them find the right person to help them put all loans together. That will get the interest rates down substantially.
  • Set up a plan for social activities and be outside in nature. Help the person to reconnect to nature and other people. You can talk long walks or work out in the gym together.
  • Talk with other relatives together. They can also support you. It’s a myth that we are strong alone… WE ARE TRULY MUCH STRONGER TOGETHER!
  • In most countries, there are physical support groups for gambling addicts. They are often free and are a perfect complement to QuitGamble.com.

QuitGamble.com is not intending to compete with any physical support groups, nor any other tools for helping people with gambling problems.

We have created an online platform, open 24/7.

We want to help your relative in trouble. Here on QuitGamble.com, you’ll find some powerful tools to do that. We want to help people quit gambling, not just today, but entirely. We want to make their present so meaningful that they don’t need to gamble to create excitement.