Gambling addiction affects many Americans every day. Compulsive gambling addiction is difficult to cope with and a challenge to overcome but it can be done with the right support. Family problems, loss of material possessions, health issues and legal challenges can become part of a person’s life who is addicted to gambling. Learning how to help a loved one with gambling addiction without enabling is the best thing family members can do.

Gambling Addiction Defined

Addiction to gambling can start with an innocent gesture of buying a lottery ticket, visiting the casino or playing cards with friends for small change. Gambling addiction is the compulsive desire that, over time, becomes uncontrollable and a person will pursue gambling in spite of negative consequences to their life. Even if a person would never do some of the things that are done while in active addiction, anything is possible including stealing from family or friends and participating in illegal activities to fulfill the addictive desire.

Signs of Addiction

Referred to as a ‘hidden illness,’ gambling addiction has no obvious physical signs or symptoms that are easily spotted. Problem gamblers often go unnoticed for years before signs of addiction are evident to loved ones. It is difficult to spot unless the signs are recognizable. Here are just a few to look for:

  • Preoccupation with gambling, lotto, casinos, online gambling, etc
  • Avoiding work, school, home or social obligations to gamble
  • Ignoring family and friends’ advice or concern around gambling
  • Financial hardships due to gambling
  • Stealing to gamble or repay debts
  • Selling material possessions to acquire money for gambling
  • Inability to control behaviors despite desire for control
  • Denial of a problem

How to Help

Gambling addiction treatment works differently for each individual. One of the greatest hurdles in treatment for gambling is to recognize the problem exists and seek help. Gambling is called a ‘hidden addiction,’ which can make it hard to admit the need for help. Social support in groups can be helpful but psychotherapeutic intervention, cognitive behavioral therapy and treatment can be quite helpful in identifying triggers for gambling and how to recover in a healthy way. Other things family can do to help include restricting access to financial resources, doing an intervention and offering support until the loved one is able to seek help. The best way to help a loved one with addiction is to support the need for treatment and offer to help seek sources that can tackle gambling addiction head on, before it spirals further downward.


Cypress Lakes offers support for individuals struggling with gambling addiction. We believe people with addiction will fixate on the next bet and hedge bets against treatment. We will help you change that paradigm and realize you are making a good bet by accepting treatment for your addiction. Don’t hesitate, call us today to get started: 877-938-1577.

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