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How to help someone with gambling addiction

Recovering from a gambling problem isn't always easy. It can take hard work and a lot of encouragement.

Many people with a gambling addiction can turn their lives around because of support from people close to them.

We can help you provide this support with information and tips specifically suited to your situation.

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Why do people gamble?

Generally, there are four main reasons why people gamble. These might help you understand how gambling can become addictive and why it’s hard to stop.

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A young man sitted on a sofa having a discussion with an older male

I’m worried about someone’s gambling

If you're concerned that someone close to you has a gambling problem, it's best to say something to them, sooner rather than later.

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How to prepare yourself to support someone, mentally and emotionally

You might become preoccupied with loved one's gambling issue and ignore your own needs. Take steps to limit the impacts of your loved one’s gambling on you.

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Making an action plan

How to talk to someone about their gambling

The best way to find out if someone has a gambling addiction is to ask. Make sure you choose a time when you can talk in private and are both calm.

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Counselling session for help with finances

Looking after your finances

Online gambling is gambling you do on your phone or computer.

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Protecting yourself and your family

If you have ever felt threatened or unsafe, or if you are concerned about the welfare of children affected by a parent’s gambling, call 1800 858 858 for help.

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Identifying if someone close to you has a gambling problem

Gambling issues are often easy to hide. People who gamble compulsively may feel ashamed and fear being rejected.

These factors combine to create considerable barriers to help-seeking seeking help. And can explain why some people deny the problem until the impacts are severe.

If your friend or family member is struggling with their gambling, he or she might:

  • have long, unexplained absences from home, school, or work.
  • withdraw from family and friends.
  • seem anxious or distracted, or have difficulty paying attention.
  • have mood swings, usually high when winning and lower when losing.
  • get overly upset at the conclusion of sporting matches or online games.
  • become secretive over money and finances or start to hide bank and credit card statements.
  • display intense interest in gambling conversations.
  • ask friends and family for money.
  • have unexplained debts, or windfalls of cash or new items (like new clothes or jewellery).
  • is always either short of money, or exceedingly generous.
  • has money conflicts with other people.

You may notice that:

  • money is missing from the house or from bank accounts.
  • an increasing lack of money despite the same income and expenses.
  • your family member takes on extra jobs, but you don't see any extra money.
  • unexplained dwindling of savings and assets.
  • jewellery or other valuables disappearing and reappearing as they are pawned.
  • your family member talks about gambling all the time.
  • your family member defends gambling as a way to get money.
  • Your family member may get secretive, defensive or even blame you for the need to gamble. They may you that it is ‘all for you’ and you need to trust in the ‘big win someday.’

Sunenna’s Story

“You’re not alone and help is available.” Sunenna says many people think their story is unique, but there are lots of people fighting similar battles.

Chandana's story

“You don’t need to keep it to yourself.” Chandana’s was shocked to find out about her partner’s gambling. She says that without the help of others, she could never have rebounded so quickly.