Intervention for Gambling Addiction
You’re concerned that a friend, family member, or someone else you care about has a problem with casino gaming and/or sports betting. Rather than leave them to their own devices you’ve decided that it’s time to step in to help. You’re just not sure how to go about it. As a result, you’re searching for assistance on how to do a gambling intervention.
In essence, an intervention is an organized attempt to confront someone about a perceived addiction. While in a perfect world an intervention would be undertaken with the help of a licensed interventionist, this is not always practical given limited access to specialized services. It’s generally easier to find a licensed professional for substance abuse problems, but more challenging when it comes to behavioral health concerns such as gambling disorder. For a variety of reasons close friends, family members, and loved ones may choose to organize an intervention on their own. American Addiction Centers have stated that it can be done without a professional. We’re not here to debate any of it. Instead we’re here to provide the support you’re looking for so that you can support the person you care for. The more planning involved, the greater chance of success.
How to do a Gambling Intervention for a Friend or Loved One with a Casino Gaming / Sports Betting Problem
Confirm Signs of Gambling Disorder
Before confronting this person, confirm that they may in fact have gambling disorder. It’s important to provide specific examples of the damaging effects that their gambling has had on themselves and the lives of their family and friends. There are telltale signs to watch out for, which include the following:
- They constantly talk about betting.
- Their elevated emotions (gamblers “high”) increase with increases (value and/or frequency) of their wagers.
- They have tried to control, cut down on, or stop betting, without success.
- They get sad, irritable, restless or anxious when not betting, and in extreme cases, becoming aggressive or violent.
- They bet to escape problems or relieve feelings of stress, anxiety or depression.
- They bet more to recover losses.
- They forget and/or bypass out on education or career opportunities because of the time and energy spent betting.
- They forget and/or bypass out on important occasions (birthdays, anniversaries, etc.) because of the time and energy spent betting.
- They have become distant from friends, family, and/or you.
- They have resorted to theft or fraud to support gambling.
- They lie about betting.
- They are in significant debt yet continue to gamble.
- They ask you and/or others for financial help because large sums of money have been lost through betting.
Create a Safe Environment
“You should select somewhere that your loved one feels comfortable, such as their own home or that of a family member of close friend, or even your own. You want to minimize the possibility of their negative reactions, and prevent them from fleeing if they feel cornered. A comfortable, memorable environment may help ground them in the situation.”Source: Addiction Center
Choose a physical space that is comforting for them and that they have a positive association with. While traditionally done in a home environment, you may consider a private outdoor space that is meaningful to your familial/social circle. Interventions typically consist of four to six people who are most impacted by the individual’s behavior, but by no means is a set number required.
If the individual feels as if they are being ambushed, attacked, and blamed they may get defensive and the intervention can fall apart as quickly as it started. Make it clear that you (and all involved) are not blaming them. Do so by pointing to why they may not have been able to stop gambling. There are seven common reasons for why people cannot quit gambling on their own. View them here. This information will also help you and others understand why the person you care about is struggling. Approaching them in this enlightening manner will remove judgement from the equation. From here, you can point to the damaging effects that gambling has had on themselves and the lives of their family and friends.
Have Tools at Your Disposal
Without a licensed professional involved in the intervention, the individual may not be ready to accept that they have a gambling problem. For this reason we encourage you to arm yourself with tools to validate your concern for them. The following gambling test has been created by gambling disorder experts. Be sure to have the online questionnaire ready on a smartphone or tablet so that they can take the test with you at their side in a supportive capacity.
Present Options for Getting Support
The ultimate goal of the gambling intervention is to get your loved one into a recovery program. You need to have options ready for them, and these options should accommodate their comfort level. Online counseling is ready and available so that recovery can begin immediately at the conclusion of the intervention. They can choose one-one-one, group therapy, or a hybrid approach. Have the following options ready for them so that they can instantly initiate contact:
Offer to Attend Counseling with Them
Towards the conclusion of the intervention, let them know that you’re ready to begin the journey towards recovery with them, if they are comfortable doing so. There are private family and group family programs available. If they want to go this route, initiate contact together by selecting one of the following:
Offer to Cover Cost?
Given that the person you care about has a gambling problem, they may be in financial dire straights. If you have the means, and are willing to cover or help cover the expense, it’s good to know the cost of gambling rehab before staging the intervention. If they have the right insurance a very significant portion of treatment could be covered.
Questions About a Gambling Intervention?
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