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It can be difficult to see someone you love suffer from a gambling problem. Even worse, you may be suffering the negative impacts of problem gambling even though you don’t have the problem. Remember that it’s not your fault. You did not create the problem. You cannot make anyone stop gambling, but you may be able to offer help and support.

Do’s:

  • Educate yourself about problem gambling including its warning signs, negative impacts and options for help and recovery.
  • When talking to the individual about their gambling, stay calm and be supportive. Tell them how their gambling affects you. Recognize their good qualities and any positive steps they have made.
  • Learn to say “No”. This will force the gambler to face the problem head-on. Try to have other friends and family say no as well.
  • Get support from other friends and family, and problem gambling counselors, and self-help groups, who can help you understand the problem and deal with its effects. The more support the better.
  • Protect yourself and your family, financially, emotionally and physically. If necessary, seek the help of a family counselor.
  • Remember that change takes time, effort and often several attempts to be successful. Be sure to identify triggers and help them learn how to deal with urges to gamble.

Do Not’s:

  • Accept the blame for the situation that the problem gambler has caused. Problem gamblers will often place blame and create arguments to justify their gambling.
  • Accuse or get into a heated argument with the problem gambler. This tends to make people more defensive and less open to admitting a problem and getting help.
  • Lend money or pay for gambling debts. Bailing out a problem gambler will make matters worse by allowing the gambling behavior to continue.
  • Try to hide the problem by making excuses or covering up their behavior. This will only allow the problem to continue.
  • Expect immediate recovery. Overcoming a gambling problem takes a lot of hard work and relapses are common.