How To Help Someone With An Addiction Posted On

Having a family member or friend who is struggling with an addiction can take an emotional toll on you. We know that addiction doesn’t just affect the individual – it affects their loved ones around them, too.

Many friends and family members don’t know what to do. They ask,

“How do I help someone with an addiction?”

It’s important that you support them while taking care of yourself, both physically and emotionally.

Educate yourself about addiction.

Too many people try to “change” their loved ones with addictions, without understanding the potential causes of addiction or how their loved ones feel. People don’t understand how the brain affects addiction, and how addiction causes actions that may appear to others to just be “bad decisions” or “bad behavior.” According to the DSM-5, gambling disorder is classified in the category “substance-related and addictive disorders.”

Problem gambling is an issue that affects millions of people throughout the world. By educating yourself, you become better prepared to help your loved one understand their addiction, reach out for help and work to recover.

Stop any actions that enable the addiction.

Do you lend a problem gambler money, or try to help by paying off debts? Unfortunately, these actions usually don’t stop gambling addictions, or help solve any problems. By providing the gambler money or relieving him or her of debt, you give them an opportunity to gamble again.

You may not have realized you enabled any gambling, and it’s not your fault! Many people are surprised to find out that debts have piled up again after they were taken care of by family members and friends. You have to treat the addiction – not just its consequences.

Support your family member or friend’s recovery.

The problem gambler must want to get help for the addiction before any recovery can be pursued. This is not a decision that can be forced by a family member or friend, though it can be encouraged.

Once the problem gambler you know shows interest in seeking help, you can show your support by researching counselors, support groups and other treatment options. You can participate in gambling-free healthy activities and be the friend the recovering gambler needs to talk to as he or she navigates major lifestyle changes.

Take care of yourself.

Whether you are handling the loss of financial stability, the emotional toll of a fractured relationship or other consequences of gambling addiction, it’s important that you take care of yourself. Worries and stresses associated with problem gambling can lead to lost sleep, poor diet choices and low energy for exercise, and it’s important that you make sure you manage your own wellbeing – which will help you stay prepared to help others.

Organizations such as Gam-Anon provide support for family members and friends of problem gamblers. Consider such an organization for support as you help your family member or friend recover.

Reach out for help if you need it.

If you are a New Yorker struggling with the gambling addiction of someone you know, call the NYS HOPEline at 1-877-8-HOPENY. There, you can reach professionals every day who can point you (and your loved one) to addiction support near you.