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How to Support a Young Adult with Problem Gambling

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parent embracing child in a hug offering their support

There is a concerning increase in gambling among teens and young adults in the United States. Which appears to be driven by ease of access, enticing potential winnings, and thrilling gameplay. The expansion of online gambling platforms allows young people to engage in gambling from their homes or smartphones. Research highlights a high risk for young adults aged 18 to 24, with significantly higher rates compared to older age groups. Factors like peer influence, gambling ads, the belief in winning big, and accessibility contribute to the growing prevalence of youth gambling.

Discovering that your young adult child has a gambling problem can be a daunting and distressing experience for any parent. It’s essential to recognize the signs and take proactive steps to provide support and guidance during this challenging time. In this blog post, we’ll review six steps parents can take to support their child with a gambling problem.

Step 1: Educate Yourself About Problem Gambling 

Understanding problem gambling is the first step towards providing effective support to your young adult child. Take the time to educate yourself about the signs, symptoms, and potential consequences of problem gambling. Recognize that problem gambling is a complex issue that can have a significant impact on individuals and their families. Resources such as helplines, support groups, and counseling services can offer guidance and support as you navigate this journey. 

Step 2: Have an Open and Honest Conversation 

Initiate a compassionate and non-judgmental conversation with your young adult child about their gambling behavior. Express your concerns and offer your support, emphasizing that you are there to help them through this difficult time. Listen to their perspective without blame or criticism, and encourage them to share their thoughts and feelings openly. Remember that communication is key to fostering understanding and finding solutions together. 

Step 3: Set Boundaries and Limits 

Establish clear boundaries and limits around gambling to help your child regain control over their behavior.

  • Limit access to funds
  • Create a supportive environment that encourages healthier choices
  • Set specific times when gambling is not allowed
  • Offer alternative activities or hobbies to replace gambling
  • Implement consequences for continued gambling
  • Be consistent in enforcing boundaries

Step 4: Seek Professional Help 

Encourage your child to seek professional help from a therapist or counselor specializing in gambling addiction. Therapy can provide valuable support and guidance in addressing underlying issues contributing to their gambling behavior. Treatment options include individual therapy, group therapy, and support groups like Gamblers Anonymous and SMART Recovery. Remember, seeking help is a sign of strength, and there are resources available to support your child on their journey to recovery. 

Step 5: Encourage Financial Responsibility 

Help your child to develop financial responsibility by providing guidance on managing finances effectively.

  • Create a budget together
  • Monitor spending habits
  • Seek assistance from financial advisors or counselors
  • Create practical strategies for managing money and planning for the future

Step 6: Practice Self-Care 

Take care of yourself as you support your child through their recovery journey. Prioritize your own well-being by engaging in self-care activities; these may include exercise, mindfulness, and connecting with supportive friends and family members. Seek support from other parents or caregivers who may be experiencing similar challenges, and remember that you are not alone. By practicing self-care, you can better support your child and maintain your own emotional and physical health. 

Offering Support and Hope

Supporting a young adult child with a gambling problem can be a challenging and emotional experience; however, it’s essential to remember that there is hope for recovery. Taking proactive steps, including educating yourself, engaging in open and honest conversations, setting boundaries, seeking professional help, promoting financial responsibility, and practicing self-care, can offer valuable support to your child as they navigate their journey to recovery.

Nina Gallivan wears a pink sweater and has medium-length blonde hair. She has a bright, welcoming smile.

About Nina Gallivan

I have been providing counseling and treatment to teens and adults who struggle with substance abuse, problem gambling, and anxiety and depression for the past 14 years. I really do love working with people and am so grateful to have the opportunity to work alongside them as they navigate through difficulties in life. It is empowering and beautiful to see people make positive changes and improve their quality of life.

View my therapist profile.