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This National Recovery Month, Learn How You Can Help Loved Ones with Gambling Addiction

Join us at the Council on Compulsive Gambling of New Jersey as we observe National Recovery Month. Every year, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), an agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, leads the country in a month dedicated to spreading awareness and understanding of mental disorders and substance use addictions while commemorating those in recovery.

The annual theme of this year’s Recovery Month is “Join the Voices for Recovery: Strengthen Families and Communities.” In that spirit, here are some ways that you can support the loved one in your life that may struggle with a gambling addiction, whether they struggle with sports betting in the Meadowlands area of NJ, racetrack wagering in Freehold, NJ, casino gambling in Atlantic City or any other form of disordered gambling.

Talk to them

Recovery begins with acknowledgement of the issue. Research the signs of gambling addiction. Then, start an open and honest conversation. State your concerns while withholding your feelings of judgment, frustration, or disappointment. Communication is key to this whole process. If the conversation ends up not being productive, make sure that the person knows that you are always available to talk, and that you want to talk about it because you care.

Understand problem and disordered gambling

Whether the individual in question recognizes that they have an issue or not, knowledge about gambling addiction – how it develops, what “symptoms” a person who struggles may display, what may trigger a relapse – can greatly improve your ability to help. Are there risk factors that made this person prone to addiction already? Often, a history of substance misuse or gambling disorders in the family greatly increases the chance that someone may struggle with similar issues. Do people close to them gamble regularly? Do they also suffer from other mental health issues or issues such as depression, bipolar disorder, or obsessive-compulsive disorder? Over 60% of disordered gamblers may also meet the criteria for these mental health issues. Thankfully, successful treatment of those conditions can also ameliorate a gambling addiction.

Recognize the disease

“The disease of addiction is powerful, but the inner ‘dis-ease’ is also why one may seek gambling, drugs, or alcohol as an escape or ‘solution’ to a deeper, unresolved issue,” said Neva Pryor, MS, Executive Director of the CCGNJ. “It is extremely important that we address all issues when treating an individual.”

Gambling addiction, as with any addiction, should not be compartmentalized and treated as the be-all, end-all of the issue. Most often (if not always), it is a symptom for an underlying, unanswered need or emptiness that has been left unanswered for far too long.

Find a solution

After some research and discussion, the loved one may be ready to seek treatment. Work together with them to find the solution that fits best. A professional can help to evaluate the individual and suggest different options, whether that takes the form of a support group, cognitive behavioral therapy, or another program or therapy.

Whether you or a loved one are struggling with an addiction to gambling, the Council on Compulsive Gambling of New Jersey pledges support, treatment, and hope. To reach out or to learn more about disordered gambling, call us at 1-800-GAMBLER or visit us at https://800gambler.org/.