How to Help a Friend or a Relative

If someone you know is gambling for more than fun, they may have a problem. Talking to them can seem scary, but they need you to have courage. Here are some ways to begin the conversation:

  • Find a comfortable place to talk where you won’t be disturbed.
  • Keep it simple and straightforward.
  • Tell the person you care about him and you’re concerned about how he is acting.
  • Tell the person exactly what she’s done that concerns you.
  • Tell the person how his behavior is affecting other people—and be specific.
  • Be clear about what you expect from her (“I want you to talk to someone about your gambling.”) and what she can expect from you (“I won’t cover for you anymore.”).
  • After you’ve told the person what you’ve seen and how you feel, allow him to respond. Listen with a nonjudgmental attitude.
  • Let the person know you are willing to help, but don’t try to counsel him yourself.
  • Give the person information, not advice. Encourage her to call the National Problem Gambling HelpLine.

When Their Problem is Your Problem:

If you are the spouse or family member of a problem gambler, it is important for you to take care of yourself and realize that you are not responsible for the gambler’s behavior. Even if your loved one isn’t ready or willing to get help, you may want to talk to a counselor yourself.

Make the Call

To find information and resources for yourself or the person you are concerned about, contact the confidential helpline: 2-1-1 (Maine only)

Available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.


Content from the National Problem Gambling Awareness week.org