Dealing With Gambling Problems

Gambling is a form of risk-taking in which a person puts something of value at stake for the chance to win money or other prizes. It can occur anywhere people can place bets, including casinos, racetracks and sports events. It also occurs on the Internet. In addition to being addictive, gambling can cause financial and emotional problems. It can also affect family relationships. A person who has a gambling problem may lie to his or her spouse, children and others about their habits. This can lead to stress and conflict within the relationship. It can also increase feelings of guilt and shame for the gambler and others who suffer because of the problem.

People who have a gambling disorder can benefit from therapy. Although the U.S. Food and Drug Administration hasn’t approved any drugs to treat the condition, several types of psychotherapy can help. These techniques include family therapy, cognitive-behavioral therapy and psychodynamic therapy, which examines unconscious processes that may affect a person’s behavior. Psychotherapy is done with a licensed mental health professional, such as a psychologist or social worker.

It is important to remember that the person who has a gambling problem is responsible for changing his or her behaviors. It is not your responsibility to solve their problems for them, but it is helpful to make them aware of the situation and encourage them to seek treatment.

When addressing the problem, be direct but gentle. You might say, “I have noticed that you are spending more time at the casino than with me and I worry about your well-being.” Avoid making critical comments or belittling them because these will only put them on the defensive. If the person gets angry, you should end the discussion.

If you have children, it’s also a good idea to bring up the topic of gambling with them in an open and honest manner. This can help them learn to recognize warning signs and understand the importance of avoiding gambling activities. You can also discuss how their parent’s gambling has negatively impacted the family finances and why it is important to manage household expenses until the gambling issue is resolved.

Other ways to prevent the person from going to casinos or betting on sports is to limit access to credit cards and bank accounts. You can also install apps that block gambling sites on mobile devices. It is also important to find other recreational activities that will replace gambling as an outlet for stress, such as exercising, listening to music, or engaging in hobbies.

In the meantime, it’s a good idea to get legal advice to learn more about your rights and options if you suspect that someone close to you has a gambling addiction. A lawyer can also advise you on how to protect your loved one’s assets by setting up trust funds, getting a power of attorney or changing a will to ensure that future inheritance will not be used to support gambling addictions.