Resources to Help Your Friend or Family Member

Resources to Help Your Friend or Family Member

How to Talk With a Significant Other

When you are concerned about your significant other, it can be difficult to know how to approach them in a calm, loving way. Here are some suggestions on how to have a meaningful conversation with them about their potential gambling problem.

How do I talk to a loved one with a gambling problem?

  • Be conversational, not confrontational. When confronted, people feel backed into a corner and are less likely to make changes.
  • Be curious and supportive, not judgmental. Try to learn more about why they gamble and how they view gambling.
  • Listen more than you talk.
  • Always consider giving information about your concerns or about getting help. Say something like, “I’m concerned about…” Until you are asked for advice, try only giving information, such as a clinic where they can seek help.
  • Help your loved ones understand that you are concerned because you care. Be specific about their behaviors that concern you – For example, say something like, “When you stay out late at night gambling, I worry about your safety.”
  • Ask if talking to someone about their gambling might help. Offer to help them get in touch with these resources.

Tips for Positive Communication with Concerned Significant Others

Be direct and honest

Problematic: “I can’t believe you didn’t make those phone calls! What have you been doing all day? I don’t ask you to help much with my business. Don’t you want me to be successful? You’re just like my mom. You agree to help, but then you somehow always end up being too busy.”
Improved: “You didn’t get a chance to make those calls? Do you have time to sit down now and get them started?”

Be positive (avoid blaming, name-calling, and overgeneralizing)

Problematic: “If I hear you whine like a spoiled brat one more time about wanting your own TV, I’m going to get rid of the one we have.”
Improved: “Let’s sit down tonight and discuss some of the creative ideas you’ve come up with for earning money to get your own TV.”

Refer to Specific Behaviors

Problematic: “You never lift a finger around the house. Can’t you help out once in a while?”
Improved: “I’d really appreciate it if you’d stack the dirty dishes in the sink every night after dinner.”

Don’t talk is you are emotional

Problematic: You never tell me what you are doing. Your are a liar who should never be trusted.
Improved: When you don’t tell me about important things I struggle to trust you

Label Your Feelings

Problematic: “Your inconsiderate behavior is driving me nuts. I’ll be lucky if I don’t have a nervous breakdown from the stress.”
Improved: “I get nervous and preoccupied when I see that the bills haven’t been paid on time. I wonder if you could help me with them?

Offer an Understanding Statement

Problematic: “I don’t get it. I could think of a million fun things to do if I suddenly had more free time.”
Improved: “I bet at first it’s going to be hard finding people who don’t gamble and who you actually enjoy spending time with.”

Accept Partial Responsibility

Problematic: “I knew you weren’t going to show up for our session. Why should you remember something as insignificant as that?”
Improved: “I don’t know why I didn’t remind you about our session today; it’s not like I didn’t talk to you.”

Offer to Help

Problematic: “So you’re stressed. Don’t tell me you’re going to use that as an excuse to go to the casino.”
Improved: “How can I help?”

Possible Goals of Gambling Treatment

  • Abstinence: this means wanting to quit gambling completely.
  • Controlled gambling: this means cutting down or setting specific limits around gambling, such as deposit or spending limits and time limits. This goal can differ for every client and might depend on several factors, such as clients’ income, spending habits, financial debt, etc. Moderation plans are developed through collaboration between the therapist and the client.

Screening Form

Take This Screener on Behalf of Your Friend or Family Member