N. John Scholten is a psychologist and programconsultant for Concurrent Disorders, Addictionand Mental Health with Alberta Health Services.
Q:I suspect my brother has a problem with gambling, but he is unwilling to talk about it. I want to step in, but how do I get him the help he needs?
A:Prior to approaching your brother, it helps to know the warning signs of problem gambling; that way, you can tell if he has any classic signs of addiction.
Some of those signs include spending more time gamblingand talking about gambling. Problem gamblers will likelyshow signs of financial stress. You might notice your brotherhas unpaid bills or is frequently borrowing money. He couldeven be selling things or avoiding major expenses, such asvacations, in order to shore up his financial situation. Cashingin RRSPs and other savings accounts is also a sign he mighthave a problem.
Your brother may have already made some unsuccessfulattempts to stop his gambling and failed. He may also be lyingto his family and friends about the amount of time and moneyhe is spending on gambling.
As difficult as it may be to understand, drug, alcohol andgambling addicts will risk losing relationships, their jobs —parts of their lives that are important to them. It could be yourbrother is starting to alienate family and friends and evenjeopardize his career. These are all clear signs that he is in thegrips of addiction.
If you decide to talk to your brother about your concernsand observations, you may want to recruit concerned familymembers and friends to sit down with him and share theirworries at the same time. Let him know how he has changedand how it is impacting his family, and strongly encouragehim to get some support from a counsellor before he loseseverything he holds dear.
Remember, however, that you cannot stop him from gambling.
He must stop himself.
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For more information about addiction and resources in yourcommunity, visit informalberta.ca or Health link Alberta athealthlinkalberta.ca or call toll-free at 1-866-408-liNk (5465).