The Warning Signs


Sometimes gambling stops being a fun and affordable activity.

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Spot the signs

Not everyone can gamble in a safe, responsible way. For some, gambling can become a problem. The more signs a person shows, the greater the chance that they may have lost control of their gambling.

Lying about the extent of gambling involved

Last night he told his spouse he was working late but he was really at a bar playing vlts.

Often missing work or school to gamble

She’s often absent from work and is having a hard time managing her workload.

Using gambling as an escape

She gambles more and more to escape from the pressures of home and work.

Neglecting personal or family responsibilities to gamble

He missed his son’s birthday party. He stayed late at the casino thinking that the slot machine he was playing was due for a win.

Believing the big win will bring gambling under control

Gambling for longer and longer periods of time

His mortgage payment was lost in an online game of blackjack.

Believing the “big win” will bring gambling under control

How to Take Action

If you suspect that someone you love is suffering from a gambling problem, it’s natural to want to help. Just remember that it’s up to the individual to seek help. It must be their choice, and only when they’re ready.

Talking Tips

Learn about help and support available before approaching the person. (This website has plenty of resources that can help with that).

Prepare examples of how the person’s gambling has had a negative impact on you and others.

Remember that the behaviour is the problem, not the person.

Communicate using “I” messages without being judgmental (e.g., “When you do this, I feel…”)

Be supportive and offer resources if the person is open to getting help.

What You Shouldn’t Do

Ignore the problem and make excuses – it’s easier that way.

It may be easier in the short term, but it allows the problem to grow. It’s best to help the individual face the problem as soon as possible.

Lecture them for behaving badly. Tell them they should stop now.

Remember that the behaviour is the problem, not the person. Try to communicate without being judgmental. You can’t force someone to stop gambling, but offering love and support can lead them to seek the help they need.

Stop lending them money, but suggest another friend who might offer a loan.

Not lending any more money is a good idea. It’s best not to support or enable their behavior. But make sure you don’t encourage them to borrow from other sources.

What You Should Do

Let them know that you care and that you’re concerned.

It is very important that they understand someone cares.

Tell them that their family and friends are concerned about the changes they see.

If you have specific examples of how their behaviour has negatively affected those they care for, it’s a good idea to tell them. Just remember not to attack them — this will likely make them defensive.

Tell them you’re there as a friend if and when they need your help.

Yes! Just don’t provide counseling yourself. Leave that to the professionals. When they’re ready, encourage them to call the 24-hour, toll free Alberta Health Services Addiction Helpline at 1-866-332-2322.


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