My Son Has a Gambling Problem, What Can I Do?

We recently published an important article titled How Can I Stop My Son from Gambling to help concerned parents intervene before participation becomes problematic. Unfortunately for some, gambling already has their young adult in its grip. If you’re among them, you’re wondering if there is anything you can do to help release him from a habitual cycle of casino gaming and/or sports betting. This is the right place to start. Below is a step-by-step breakdown of how to proceed.

Powerful Steps Towards Helping Your Young-Adult Son Defeat Gambling Disorder

Confirm that it’s a Problem

Your parental instincts may be sending warning signals, but we encourage a more measured approach to ensure you’re not being overprotective (so to speak). To begin with, reference the following signs of problematic gambling behavior. If your son exhibits a combination of the behaviors below, corrective steps need to be taken:

  • Gets defensive when asked about his gambling habit.
  • Has admitted that he should cut back on gambling.
  • Has stated that he only gambles when stressed or bored.
  • Has borrowed money to recover losses or pay gambling debts.
  • Continues to ask for (or to borrow) money.
  • Has lost a job due to gambling.
  • Has broken up with a romantic companion due to gambling.
  • Receives calls at your home from lenders and loan companies.
  • Often talks about gambling.
  • Often gambles from his phone while at family functions (dinner, etc.) and gets confrontational when asked to stop to focus on family time.
  • Takes frequent trips to popular gambling destinations (Las Vegas, Reno, Atlantic City, etc.).

If the above signs confirm that he struggles with problematic gambling yet he remains dismissive of your concern, ask him to “humor” you by completing a quick 5-minute quiz. The following quiz will help your son identify whether or not he should speak with a professional:

Assess His Risk

Even if you can’t say for certain that he has gambling disorder, there is likely some truth in your suspicion. Parental instincts may be overprotective from time to time, but they are correct more often than not. The latter is more likely true if there are underlying factors that increase your son’s risk of developing gambling disorder. Risk factors include the following:

Share this valuable information with your son, as it may be an eye-opener for him. It’s easy to be dismissive of something until you find out that there is a legitimate catalyst pulling the proverbial strings.

Hold an Intervention

If it’s clear that your son has a gambling problem, but casual conversations about it thus far have gotten you nowhere, it’s time for an intervention. You will need to create a safe non-judgemental environment for the intervention, invite loved ones who have been impacted by your son’s gambling, and provide specific options for getting help. Here’s exactly how to hold a gambling intervention, and please click the link below to access individual online therapy for your son:

Work the Problem with Them

Given that you initiated outreach to get help for your son, you’re deeply invested in his recovery. Let him know that you’re willing to do the work with him, if he’s comfortable having you involved. The two of you can engage in online family therapy for gambling in a private or group setting. Kindbridge offers both options to accommodate preferences and financial considerations (if not covered by insurance):

Get Help for Your Son

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