- Should You Do One?
you looking for information regarding doing a gambling addiction
intervention for a loved one who is struggling with problem gambling?
When I first started researching this type of family
intervention, I recall finding very little information, and becoming
very frustrated. One of the biggest questions for me was
I be doing an intervention?" I later came to understand that
was thinking about it, chances are that I should be seriously
considering it. For me, I personally struggled with whether
not to do an intervention for the better part of three years!
did a bit of research here and there, and intellectually dabbled with
the idea, but continually found reasons/excuses for not proceeding.
first thing to do is to determine whether this is the right approach
for your situation is to understand what an addiction intervention is.
Consider the following example situation (your situation will
vary of course):
- Your spouse disappears for long periods of
time during the day and/or night, and doesn't provide adequate reasons
when questioned, or is obviously lying.
- You know your
spouse is gambling and money continually goes missing, and this is
either creating financial strain in terms of paying for bills and
activities, or you have already begun defaulting on loans and other
- When you discuss the topic of problem
gambling, they either dismiss it as not an issue, or acknowledge that
things have gotten out of hand, but that they can stop if they want to.
found yourself making significant financial adjustments, whether it's
moving (whether due to a foreclosure or voluntarily selling your home),
downsizing cars (or repossessions), etc.
- You're credit
cards have consistently higher balances due to cash advances, or are
over limit, and you're getting calls from collectors.
- Money from your bank accounts is disappearing due to
unexpected/unaccounted for withdrawals.
- Large unexplained sums of money are deposited to your bank
- Communication with your spouse is difficult, stressful, or
generally ineffective or non-existent.
- They've attended Gamblers
Anonymous and either continue to gamble or have discontinued
- They tried individual therapy
and/or couples therapy with you, and they continue to gamble.
- You generally feel that your life is out of control and
you find that even a few of these issues hold true for your situation,
then chances are that you should seriously consider a gambling
intervention. Also keep in mind that whether or not your
recognizes or acknowledges the existence of a gambling problem, isn't
important in terms of considering a family intervention.
So what's an addiction
people may describe interventions when close family members and
potentially friends of the gambler have a "sit down".
they point out the behaviors that are causing problems and tell them to
"snap out of it - or else," and may even have some demands regarding
how finances are to be managed. I experienced this type of
approach, and while I'm certainly not a professional, I personally
don't consider this method to be a valid or helpful method of
intervention. That's not to say that some people don't find
success with this approach, and I do know of people who have stopped
gambling after such an intervention; however, I believe long term
success with such an approach is few and far between.
said, you can try that approach first, and the only real risk you take
is further delaying getting proper treatment should it not be
successful. ALSO, please keep in mind that experts say that
amongst all addiction (drugs, alcohol, etc.), gambling addiction has
the highest suicide rate. You might not feel as though your
gambler/loved one is at the point of suicide, but if we're being honest
ourselves, I think we can admit, at least to ourselves, that we in fact
have no clue what they're thinking, or when their thinking could
change. You can also read about a related topic, What
Is Early Intervention
, or jump to Behavior
With that said, my definition of a gambling addiction intervention has
the following components:
professional who's an addiction specialist (in the medical
who either has experience doing interventions, or brings someone with
them who has hands-on experience doing GAMBLING interventions.
emphasize that their experience should be directly related to gambling
addiction interventions, because as similar as many addictions are
in the underlying psychology and physiology (of the brain), problem
gamblers are unique enough that they deserve special consideration.
- There should be a planning and preparation period; this can
take a number of days, weeks, or more.
family and friends should be involved. Participating members
should truly believe in the process, and be committed to following the
instructions of the interventionist(s).
- The end game objective should be to have your loved one,
the problem gambler, agree to go to treatment.
course of treatment, whether in-patient or out-patient, should be
reviewed in advance, and proper preparation made well in advance of the
day of the intervention.
- An effective intervention must be a surprise.
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