Gambling Harms does not only impact the gambler themselves, but can affect loved ones such as family or friends. In partnership with SA Intensive Gambling Help Service (SAIGHS), we have developed this guide to support you in recognising warning signs, talking to your loved one, and seeking support for both yourself and the person you are concerned about.
1) Educate yourself
Seeking the correct information is a powerful tool to help those concerned about someone’s gambling. Information helps people to better understand how to look after themselves and the person they are worried about. Understanding the warning signs is an excellent place to start.
2) Recognise Warning Signs
Below are some common warning signs that might indicate that someone you care about may be struggling with gambling:
- Behaviour and personality changes such as sudden changes in the person’s priorities, signs of depression or anxiety, withdrawing from friends and family
- Financial changes such as frequently asking for money or withdrawing large amounts, bills not kept up to date, missing valuables, secretive or reactive behaviour when discussing finances.
- Routine changes such as more time spent gambling, increased unexplained time off work, absent for long periods, being late or cancelling necessary appointments or commitments.
3) Discuss Your Concerns
Seeking information is the best place to start. Once you feel informed and supported, you can then begin the conversation. It is important to verbalise how you are feeling openly and respectably. Here are some tips on how to communicate your concerns:
- Actively listen to ensure your loved one feels safe in expressing how they feel.
- Be aware that you can’t force someone to stop gambling.
- The problem is the gambling, not the person. And the person needs support.
- Remember who the person was before they started gambling.
- It is not your fault if a friend or a family member has gambling issues.
- Verbalise how you feel by using ‘I feel’ statements.
- Do not continue engaging in the discussion if either party is angry.
4) Encourage Professional Support
If the person is ready to get help, you can support them in doing so. People who complete the best treatments available, such as SAIGHS, can fully recover. SAIGHS provides free and confidential treatment and support to both the gambler and their significant other.
5) Seek Support for Yourself
It is essential to protect your own emotional and mental health. Self-care is critical for building resilience toward the stressors associated with having someone in your life experiencing gambling harms.
Stay connected with friends and family, to ensure you have a strong support network. Take some time out for yourself by treating yourself to a facial, massage, or soothing bath. Eat plenty of healthy and nourishing foods, drink water, and exercise regularly to maintain a healthy lifestyle and outlook.
6) Improve Your Financial Resilience
It is essential to protect your finances to avoid gambling financial harm. Discuss a plan with the person on how to limit their access to money. This page offers practical tips on how to control access to cash as an effective way to stop the gambling cycle. SAIGHS can also refer them to a specialist gambling financial counsellor who can support them.
Call the SA Intensive Gambling Help Service (SAIGHS) 8232 3333 for confidential and professional support through an evidence-based program led by trained psychologists.