It’s on TV, on the internet, on smartphones,  and at casinos. Everywhere the opportunity arises, people are gambling, and it’s an issue on high school and college campuses too. The odds your child knows when enough is enough is slim. With a gambling problem, they could hurt their financial stability, career opportunities or even serve jail time.

There is hope for problem gambling. And the first step to finding help begins with you.

Signs to Notice:

Lying: Teens or young adults who gamble say or do just about anything to cover up their tracks. When confronted about gambling, they lie to avoid the topic.

Influx or loss of money: How did your child afford that new piece of jewelry or expensive clothing? Where did the money you gave him or her for their birthday go? If you’re having a hard time keeping tabs on large amounts of money coming in or going out, gambling might be the cause.

Borrowing money: Has your child borrowed money from you or another loved one for reasons that were difficult to explain? It’s possible that gambling is the problem.

Stealing: If you’ve caught your child stealing or trading their possessions in exchange for money, there might be a problem.

What to Say

Be Forceful, but Positive: You’re the parent, and what you say goes. But what you say matters just as much as how you say it. Use positive, hopeful, inspiring language when talking to your child.

Express Concern: Many people who gamble aren’t aware of the impact their gambling has on their family, friends or others. Show your concern for them and appeal to them emotionally.

Ask Open-Ended Questions: Don’t just preach—have an open-ended dialogue with them. Ask open-ended questions such as “what do you think?” to engage with them.

What Not to Say

Making Judgements: Addiction is a disease, and making sweeping judgements about your child is a hard thing to avoid. Don’t be judgemental. What would you like to hear if you were in their shoes?

Using Labels: Don’t assign labels when speaking to your child. Your child isn’t addicted to gambling, they’re a person struggling from gambling issues. Use hopeful, embracing and accepting terms instead of confining, harmful ones.

Steps to Take

Before you have a conversation with your child, find a resource to send them to. It’s not fair to confront someone without having a next step. When the time is right, have a firm but loving conversation about your choice to have them seek help. Make sure you use encouraging and non-judgemental languagethroughout your conversation. And—above all—be a parent, not a preacher. They need your help, not your admonishment, and it’s your job to get them the help they need.

Finding the Right Resource

Everyone who is trying to defeat their issues with gambling needs a resource to help. Problem gambling may not be something your child can conquer by themselves. When determining the right place to send your child, consider these four things:

  • Is the behavioral services facility CARF accredited?
  • Are they committed to enhancing your quality of life?
  • Can they help your child meet their personal recovery goals?
  • Can they create a custom recovery plan to help them on their recovery journey?

The journey to manage problem gambling may not be quick, but it’s an important mission. There is hope, and your child can find help at Prelude.