N. John Scholten is a psychologist and program
consultant for Concurrent Disorders, Addiction
and 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 gambling
and talking about gambling. Problem gamblers will likely
show signs of financial stress. You might notice your brother
has unpaid bills or is frequently borrowing money. He could
even be selling things or avoiding major expenses, such as
vacations, in order to shore up his financial situation. Cashing
in RRSPs and other savings accounts is also a sign he might
have a problem.
Your brother may have already made some unsuccessful
attempts to stop his gambling and failed. He may also be lying
to his family and friends about the amount of time and money
he is spending on gambling.
As difficult as it may be to understand, drug, alcohol and
gambling addicts will risk losing relationships, their jobs —
parts of their lives that are important to them. It could be your
brother is starting to alienate family and friends and even
jeopardize his career. These are all clear signs that he is in the
grips of addiction.
If you decide to talk to your brother about your concerns
and observations, you may want to recruit concerned family
members and friends to sit down with him and share their
worries at the same time. Let him know how he has changed
and how it is impacting his family, and strongly encourage
him to get some support from a counsellor before he loses
everything he holds dear.
Remember, however, that you cannot stop him from gambling.
He must stop himself.
If you have a question for our “Ask an expert” column, send it to
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Making the right lifestyle
For more information about addiction and resources in your
community, visit informalberta.ca or Health link Alberta at
healthlinkalberta.ca or call toll-free at 1-866-408-liNk (5465).