How Can I Stop my Son from Gambling?

Is there a history of problem gambling in your family? Whether it began with your elders, yourself, or the other parent, it’s apparent that you want to save your own son from its dangerous grip. Intervention is more important now than ever, given that this generation is more vulnerable than any due to the legalization of sports betting across most U.S. states. Moreover, 60-80% of students have already gambled for money and males have a higher risk of developing gambling disorder than females. Consequently, the odds are already stacked against your son. The good news, if that he has you in your corner. You’ve taken the first step and typed eight important words into your search browser; How Can I Stop my Son from Gambling? Allow us to take it from here.

4 Things You Can Do to Prevent Your Son from Developing a Gambling Problem in the Future

Identify if He Has a Higher Risk of Gambling Disorder

If there is a history of gambling disorder in your family, your son’s risk may be higher:

“Familial factors have been observed in clinical studies of pathological gamblers, and twin studies have demonstrated a genetic influence contributing to the development of PG. Serotonergic, noradrenergic, and dopaminergic dysfunction have been reported as biological factors contributing to the pathophysiology of PG […] Molecular genetic research has identified specific allele variants of candidate genes corresponding to these neurotransmitter systems to be associated with PG. Associations have been reported between pathological gamblers and allele variants of polymorphisms at dopamine receptor genes, the serotonin transporter gene, and the monoamine-oxidase A gene. Although preliminary data suggest that some of these differences are gender-specific, more research needs to be performed to substantiate gender-specific genetic contributions to the development of pathological gambling. The review of the current findings on genetics of PG suggests that liability to PG is in part mediated by genetic factors.”

Genetics of Pathological Gambling

The information above leads us to identify other factors that may contribute to your son’s susceptibility. In addition to gender and genetics, other factors include the following:

  • Pre-existing mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
  • Medications used to manage psychological disorders
  • Age
  • Personality
  • Social (peer influence)

View more on the factors that may increase your son’s risk of developing gambling disorder.

In addition, choice of vocation may elevate their risk, especially if they are beginning their careers early in life before their frontal lobes have fully developed. For instance, research shows that competitive athletes (amateur or professional) are more likely to gamble than the general population. Another occupation of concern is the military. A young male can join the U.S. military at the age of 17 (recalling age and gender risk factors) where in some cases they are provided with the tools necessary to gamble. Considering that active military and veterans have a significantly higher risk of gambling disorder, added focus must be afforded to the enlisted.

By identifying risk factors for problematic gambling behavior, you can take more tangible action. Please keep reading.

Remove Triggers

You aren’t with your son through all hours of the day, but you can control what he’s exposed to when he’s around you and your home, whether he lives with you or not. Concerning exposures that we’re talking about, are gambling triggers.

Consider this action (or non-action) in the manner you would if your son had an alcohol use disorder (AUD). If he did, you certainly wouldn’t have a beer or cocktail when you’re at home together or out to dinner. Moving forward, empty the proverbial liquor cabinets from your household and family activities. Triggers include the following:

  • Watching TV programs that feature gambling ads
  • Visiting websites that feature gambling ads
  • Attending sports events and venues where gambling is present
  • Vacationing to gambling “hot spots” (i.e. Las Vegas, Atlantic City, etc.)
  • Video gaming

View more on these gambling triggers.

Limit Gaming

We identified that video gaming can be a gambling trigger for your son, but it bears further discussion. The data is clear, as gamers are 4.3 times more likely to gamble than the general population. If you want to stop your son from gambling, you may need to take more control over their video game controller.

Limit their time spent playing video games and replace it with healthier activities. In addition, remove video games from the home that promote gambling, which includes Grand Theft Auto. Furthermore, monitor for signs of video game addiction which calls for immediate intervention.

Get Involved Together

The solutions addressed above focus on reducing your son’s exposure to gambling. However, you needn’t sweep the topic under the rug and hope it goes away. Quite the contrary, in fact.

Initiate open discussion with your son about the dangers of gambling and how it may have impacted your own life and/or that of others in your family tree. Take this concept a step further by getting involved with non-profit organizations that support the fight against problem gambling. In doing so, you will lead by example, and your son will see that your discussion about the concern is not just “lip service” which we know youth and young adults don’t respond to. Further, encourage their involvement so that it’s something that you can do together.

To increase their likelihood involvement, choose causes that may be of more interest to them. For instance, your household can start a local fundraiser (even a garage sale!) to support causes like the annual NASCAR Day Giveathon (when active) which includes an initiative to combat problem gambling in the military. No matter when you find this article, there is some organization that you and your son can help support together. When you do, you remove problem gambling from the shadows, where it’s most dangerous, and thrust it into a spotlight of healthy awareness.

Is Your Family Currently Struggling with Gambling?

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