Helping a Friend or Loved One With Gambling

Gambling involves risking money or something else of value to predict the outcome of a game involving chance. It can take many forms, from playing cards or board games for small amounts of money with friends to betting on football matches or buying lottery tickets with coworkers. Regardless of the form, gambling is considered to be a social activity, and participants often do not take it very seriously.

There are four main reasons why people gamble: to have fun, for financial rewards, to escape boredom or stress, and for entertainment. The first two reasons are most likely to lead to addiction. Other risk factors include: a history of depression, an early big win, a tendency to overrepeat bets that lose, a low tolerance for losses, impulsivity, the use of escape coping, and a lack of basic needs fulfillment.

If you have a friend or loved one who struggles with gambling, help them to see how they could benefit from treatment. It’s also important to understand how gambling affects the brain so that you can discuss it with them in a meaningful way. Some helpful tools to help with this include watching real-life stories of people who have recovered from their addiction and learning about the effective treatments available. Also, you may want to consider offering to attend counseling sessions with them and/or encourage them to seek out a support group. This can help them to find a healthy and effective alternative to gambling as a means of relieving unpleasant feelings, managing boredom or stress, and finding pleasure.