How to Talk to Someone With a Gambling Problem


Gambling is a popular pastime with many forms, including card games with friends, sports betting pools and buying lottery tickets. While some people gamble responsibly and for fun, others have a gambling addiction that can be difficult to overcome. If someone you know has a gambling problem, here are some tips to help you talk to them about getting treatment.

It is important to remember that gambling is risky. No matter what the odds are, there is always a chance that you could lose. That’s why it’s best to only gamble with money that you can afford to lose and never to borrow funds in order to gamble. Also, be sure to play only when you are in a safe environment and never online.

Whether you are playing a casino game, horse race or even an online slot machine, it’s essential to understand the odds. The odds are a mathematical calculation of how likely it is that you will win or lose, and they are calculated using probability and statistics. This information will allow you to make smarter decisions about your bets and help you avoid the pitfalls of gambling.

Pathological gambling (PG) is a mental health disorder characterized by repeated, maladaptive patterns of gambling behavior that cause significant distress or impairment in the life of the gambler. Those with PG often start gambling in adolescence or early adulthood and continue to gamble into their middle and older years. It is more common in men than in women. It is also more common among people who engage in strategic or “face-to-face” forms of gambling, such as blackjack and poker, than in nonstrategic forms, such as slot machines and bingo.

Many people who gamble develop a gambling addiction because they use it to self-soothe unpleasant feelings or emotions, or as a way to socialize. However, these behaviors can lead to financial problems and other serious issues. If you are worried that someone you know is gambling too much, consider suggesting that they seek therapy to address underlying mood disorders or other addictions, which can be both triggers and consequences of compulsive gambling.

There are many effective treatments for gambling disorders, including cognitive-behavior therapy and support groups. These therapies can teach a person to challenge irrational beliefs, such as the belief that a string of losses means they are due for a big win or that they can recoup their losses by taking more risks. They may also learn healthy ways to manage moods, relieve boredom and socialize without the use of gambling.

Other effective strategies include avoiding casinos, playing games with other players and postponing gambling urges. If you have a gambling addiction, it is important to get treatment as soon as possible. Some treatment options include inpatient or residential programs and peer support through groups such as Gamblers Anonymous. Those with a severe problem may benefit from a national or state-based helpline. For those with a mild or moderate problem, try making an appointment to discuss it with your doctor.