Before you raise the issue…
Get informed: Research problem gambling and speak to someone knowledgeable about it so you can understand what your loved one is going through.
Be prepared: Speak with someone you trust – like a counsellor, clergy member, doctor, family, parent or friend and have generated a plan of action. If there is a chance of violent or abusive behaviour, exercise caution. Get a support system in place.
Choose the right moment: If the person is expressing remorse about gambling, or has just finished a gambling episode, this may be a good time to talk.
Raising your concerns…
Use an "I" point of view: Express feelings with “I feel” or “I think”. The listener will feel less defensive and an argument will be less likely.
Remain calm: Keep a cool head when talking about the person’s gambling and other hot button issues like family finances.
Negotiate and set firm boundaries: Make clear your expectations about future gambling, managing finances and responsibilities.
After the conversation…
Support positive changes: Recognize and acknowledge positive steps and give praise for successes.
Get help for yourself: A counsellor or a self help group can help you to communicate effectively, reduce your guilt and raise your self-esteem.
Protect your finances and if necessary, get help from a credit counselling agency.
Remember that change takes time: It may take several tries before the person successfully changes their gambling behaviour.
Tips for spouses, partners or other family members:
- Recognize that gambling is only one aspect of your partner/family member’s life
- Acknowledge their good qualities
- Stay calm when discussing gambling and its consequences
- Tell your partner/family member that you are seeking help for yourself
- Acknowledge the problem to children using age-appropriate language and detail
- Negotiate and put into place controls on the management of family finances. If your partner is unwilling to cooperate, make arrangements to protect your own finances.
- Lecture, accuse or preach
- Threaten or give ultimatums unless you plan to follow through
- Gamble with your partner
- Exclude the individual from family activities
- Lend money to, or bail out, the gambler
If you are concerned about your gambling, or the gambling of someone you care about, there is free and confidential help.