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Gambling addiction is progressive, and without treatment, few people get better.

You can’t make a gambling addict stop by yelling at them, by paying off their debts, extorting promises or through any other means of individual persuasion. The nature of their compulsion means that without help, regardless of what they may say at any one time - they just cannot stop.

Treatment however, works, and no matter how bad the problem seems, no matter how far progressed the disease, recovery is very possible.

The Gambling Intervention

Nothing you alone can say has much likelihood of changing problem gambling behaviors. The gambling addict suffers a compulsion to game greater than any willpower or good intentions. Only formal treatment, therapy and gambling education offers them any real chance of getting better – and the best way to convince a gambling addict of a need for treatment is through an intervention.

Well known as a means of getting drug addicts and alcoholics into treatment, the family intervention offers loved-ones a powerful tool against the voice of addiction. Put simply – although nothing else you can do or say has much chance of success, the gambling intervention does.

What Is a Gambling Intervention?

Family holds an intervention to get an addict into treatment – and into treatment that same day if possible.

In an intervention, all loved-ones close to the gambler gather together to confront the gambling addict over the extent of the problem, and the urgent need for treatment. For best odds of success, all people of influence should attend and speak during the intervention, and although the purpose of the intervention is to confront, the tone and message of all speakers must be only of love and concern.

Should the tone of the intervention get heated, confrontational, the message gets lost in the emotion of it all. You want the addict to sit and listen, so you must speak in a way that forces them to hear.

Each person in attendance should prepare a message for the addict. They must show the addict (with personal stories) of how specifically the gambling has caused them personal pain or hardship, and how the gambling has eroded their relationship.

All must speak, even children, as the strength of a unified and caring confrontation makes continuing denial of the problem very difficult.

Ultimatums

The gambler needs to acknowledge how their behavior has affected all close to them, acknowledge that they harm not only themselves through their play. Ideally, all involved will also deliver an ultimatum. The addict must concede to get the help the family is offering, or they will face the consequences.

What is threatened will vary, but friends and family must speak with resolve, determined to carry out any promised threats.

Have Treatment Ready

It can be very tough for any gambling addict to maintain denial in the face of a well run and non confrontational intervention. Most will concede to a need for help, and it's important for family to have help ready and waiting.

Never wait for an addict to agree to treatment before making arrangements for help. The best interventions end with a gambling addict getting into a car, bags already packed, and off to a pre-arranged period of treatment.

An acceptance of offered help may not last forever, and family must seize the moment with ready treatment.

Professional Intervention Services?

Organizing family and friends, often fragmented by the actions of the addict, can be tough.

Knowing what to say and where to get treatment help can be tough.

Keeping the tone of the intervention loving, when the gambling addict may have done some terrible things, can also be tough.

Some families, wisely, decide that without the assistance of a professional interventionist, they have little chance of running an intervention that's going to work. A professional gambling interventionist can diagnose the extent of the problem, organized the family, run practice meetings, select appropriate treatment, and embolden a hesitant family to the needs of the task. A professional increases the odds of success.

They can be expensive, and a confident, informed and unified family may not need one; but since the stakes are so high, they are very worthy of consideration.

Without treatment, the problem only gets worse, but treatment works, and the family intervention works better than anything else to convince an addict of the need for help.

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Page last updated Aug 05, 2010

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