Approaching a Family Member with a Gambling Addiction

roulette table

Drugs and alcohol are the most widely known addictions, but gambling is also an addiction. Gambling is considered a process addiction.

Gambling can come in many different forms – playing the lottery and lottery games, video poker, casino games, sports gambling and playing poker to name a few.

Gambling Addiction – What to Look for

If you believe that your friend or loved one may be addicted to gambling it is important to take note of the signs of a gambling addiction:

  • Variances in bank accounts, financial strain and stress
  • Attempts to gain more money – borrowing, gambling higher stakes or illegal activity
  • Negatively affected employment, education, or relationships
  • Gambling as an escape – escaping from emotions or struggles
  • Attempts to stop gambling are unsuccessful
  • Increasing need for money (larger stakes) to feel excitement
  • Gambling larger amounts to pay back past gambling debts
  • Change in behaviors – restlessness, irritability and dishonesty when trying to cut back or stop
  • Obsessive thinking about gambling [1]

The Approach

Addictions are often hidden from others and are frequently wrapped within feelings of disappointment and shame within the sufferers themselves. Many have tried to quit and have been unsuccessful.

woman sitting in park at sunsetWith gambling, as with any type of addiction, it is important to approach your friend or loved one with care and concern.

Let them know that you are reaching out to them to support them in their recovery and that you want them to be successful.

If you have struggled with addiction yourself this would be a great time to share a little about your personal battle and recovery, but strive to not dominate the conversation.

Your loved one must remain the focus and priority.

This is a conversation that you should have face to face (as long as there are no safety concerns.) The opportunity for your loved one to see your face and the genuine love and concern you provide in your approach is important.

Take your time, seek out the help of a therapist, interventionist, treatment center or support group in advance.

Having the advice of a professional may help you become aware of important approaches, as well as provide you with discussion points, and responses to look for when having this conversation.

They will be able to advise you on important next steps for your loved one obtaining professional help.

The Recovery

Recovery doesn’t usually happen with a simple conversation. Recovery is a process that takes help and building tools that the sufferer can reach for when tempted by triggering situations. Once your loved one is on the journey to recovery, continue to reach out to them, providing your love and support.

There are peaks and valleys with any road to addiction recovery and recovery from gambling is no different.

Providing caring support during these ups and downs will not only strengthen your relationship but will help strengthen your loved one’s resolve to remain in recovery.

man yelling in joy with arms in airRemember that the responsibility for obtaining recovery falls on the person that is addicted.

They have to make the decision to change their behaviors and walk their road to recovery.

If you are close and struggle with the effects of your loved one’s addiction, consider seeking support for yourself. Al-Anon and Celebrate

Recovery provide support groups for loved ones of those suffering from addictions.

Many of these groups allow the family and friends of those struggling with other types of addictions to join their meetings and gain tools and support.

Remember that there is hope in your loved one’s recovery from a gambling addiction. Seeking out the help of a professional, treatment or support group is a great first step. You’ve got this!


1. Pathological gambling: MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia. (2016, January 13). Retrieved January 18, 2016, from

Jane McGuireAbout the author: Jane McGuire is the Director of Content at Eating Disorder Hope & Addiction Hope. Jane graduated from Eastern Oregon University with a Bachelor’s degree in Business. Jane believes that everyone has a story of trial, that when shared, can be used to benefit and encourage someone else who is struggling to find hope and direction.

The opinions and views of our guest contributors are shared to provide a broad perspective of addictions. These are not necessarily the views of Addiction Hope, but an effort to offer discussion of various issues by different concerned individuals.

We at Addiction Hope understand that addictions result from a combination of environmental and genetic factors. If you or a loved one are suffering from an addiction, please know that there is hope for you, and seek immediate professional help.

Reviewed By: Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC on January 25, 2016
Published on

About Baxter Ekern

Baxter Ekern is the Vice President of Ekern Enterprises, Inc. He contributed and helped write a major portion of Addiction Hope and is responsible for the operations of the website.