It’s well-known that gambling addiction can devastate not only the lives of the individuals affected but also the lives of those close to them.
If you are the loved one of someone who is struggling with gambling addiction and looking for advice on how to stop a gambler from gambling, this article is for you.
Understanding Gambling Addiction
To really grasp the nature of a gambling problem, it’s essential to recognise that it’s not just a financial problem. It’s more complicated than that, often involving psychological, social, and biological factors.
When someone gambles, their brain releases dopamine, which is a neurotransmitter that’s responsible for making us feel good. In fact, this behaviour, for some, can be similar to the effects of certain drugs or activities that create a high, which can be one of the reasons why an addiction forms.
Over time, the gambler becomes dependent on this dopamine rush. And it’s really not just about winning – it’s the thrill associated with the act of gambling itself. So, even losing, can stimulate this dopamine release.
Now, let’s talk about the risk factors. Genetics play a role, yes, but the environment is just as important. Stress, mental health problems, financial distress, and even the behaviour of loved ones can add to the development of a gambling addiction.
Casual gambling can, of course, lead individuals into becoming compulsive gamblers. This type of behavioural addiction can lead to severe consequences, which can include financial ruin and broken relationships. Mental health issues, such as depression and anxiety, are also more likely to develop in someone with a gambling disorder. Substance abuse and addiction are also more likely.
Is It Possible to Recover from Gambling Addiction?
The road to recovery from gambling addiction can be difficult, but yes – it’s absolutely possible.
Recovery from a gambling problem requires a deep personal commitment to change and a willingness to seek and accept help. This journey is unique for each individual, involving a multitude of factors, including personal resolve, the presence of a supportive environment, and often professional guidance and confidential support.
It’s worth being aware of the fact that, statistically speaking, compulsive gamblers are likely to experience a non-linear recovery, so there may be a few setbacks. However, these challenges do not signify failure but are often part of the process of making lasting change.
How Does Someone Stop Gambling?
The first step is acceptance. Once this step is taken, professional help is often required to achieve recovery.
Therapies such as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) tend to really help those behavioural addictions, as they can help with changing thought patterns and behaviours related to gambling. In other words, it’s about replacing the thrill of gambling with healthier alternatives.
For some people, having support from others who have struggled with a gambling problem is also important.
Sharing experiences that bring feelings of shame and that others can relate to can be incredibly empowering, allowing the individual to feel not so alone in their recovery journey. Support groups, such as Gamblers Anonymous, offer a community where people can talk openly about their gambling urges and experiences without being judged.
Following on from the above, support from partners, family, and friends is also just as important when it comes to making a full recovery from a gambling disorder.
A strong support system can be a powerful motivator to prevent relapse and help the individual stay on track, but it’s important they understand the complexities of compulsive gambling to avoid unintentional enabling or pressure.
Lifestyle changes are also part of the recovery journey. It’s about building a new routine and engaging in new activities that fill the void left when they stop gambling. This can include working on career development, engaging in exercise, and reconnecting with people that matter.
Advice for Those Who Want to Know How to Stop a Gambler from Gambling
For loved ones, understanding and accepting that the journey to overcoming a person’s gambling or addiction is a deeply personal one can be difficult.
It’s important to recognise that the individual living with this challenge is the only one who can truly decide to stop gambling. But, the importance of providing support and encouragement to a loved one struggling with a gambling problem and guiding them towards the necessary help cannot be overstated.
To help with knowing what you can do, consider the following steps:
- Communicate with empathy. Avoid judgment or criticism, as this risks pushing them further away.
- Encourage them to reflect. Help the person recognise the negative consequences of their gambling problem.
- If you’re close to the gambler, establish clear boundaries regarding their gambling behaviour. Let them know how their actions affect you and what you are willing to tolerate.
- Offer support. Let the person know that you’re there to support them through their recovery journey.
- Suggest professional help. Problem gambling is a serious issue, and it often requires professional intervention.
- Financial management. If you’re a partner or close relative, you might consider helping the person take control of their finances. This might look like creating a budget and ensuring they have limited access to funds that can be used for compulsive gambling, even if it’s just for the time being.
- Remove triggers. Identify and help the person avoid situations, places, or people that trigger their gambling urges.
- Encourage self-help in the form of an online gambling self-exclusion scheme. For example, GamStop offers a free service that places controls that remain in place for a number of years, which essentially restricts the individual from being able to use their details across online casinos and gambling sites. Banks can also work with the individual to automatically block any transactions from gambling online.
- Recommend joining support groups such as Gamblers Anonymous. We touched on this earlier, and it can be incredibly valuable for some people. Talk to the individual and see whether this could be something worthwhile in their recovery journey to stop gambling.
- This is often the hardest piece of advice to follow, but try to be patient. Recovery from gambling addiction is a process that takes time. Be somewhat prepared for setbacks along the way, as it’s not uncommon.
Seeking Professional Support for Gambling Addiction
It’s essential to remember that you can’t force someone to stop gambling if they are not willing to change.
Ultimately, it’s up to the individual to take responsibility for their actions and to seek professional help. Your role is to provide support, understanding, and resources to assist them in their journey to recovery.
We’ve helped many who have previously suffered from compulsive gambling to find the right gambling addiction treatment options to suit their specific needs and requirements. If you’d like information on how we can help, contact us directly today at 0151 268 6992. Or, if it’s more comfortable for you – reach out to us by filling out one of our contact forms, and a member of our team will contact you at a time that suits you.
Posted on Friday, January 19th, 2024 at 11:02 am in Gambling.