Gambling is risky for anyone. For teenagers and young adults, it can be especially dangerous. Your child’s gambling may have begun innocently enough with online games or scratch-off tickets. Internet gambling makes this pastime more accessible than ever — so it’s no surprise how easy it is for your child to get caught up in the thrill and excitement of gambling.
If your son or daughter has been devoting more and more time and money to gambling, whether on or offline, you have a right to be concerned. Here are some of the things you should know about the dangers of teen and young adult gambling.
Why is Gambling Addictive?
Most people don’t think of process addictions, like gambling, in the same category as substance use disorders. While your child may not be ingesting an addictive substance, gambling addiction is still a brain-based disease.
Whether it’s drugs, alcohol or gambling, those struggling with addiction aren’t necessarily addicted to a substance or activity. They’re addicted to the way these things make them feel. The brain releases chemical signals in a way that makes people crave that drug or activity. As a result, gambling can be every bit as addictive as opiates or alcohol.
The accessibility of gambling makes addiction even more of a risk. Young people no longer have to head to the casino to meet their craving. Online gambling makes places your child’s addiction at their fingertips — literally.
How Can I Stop My Son or Daughter from Gambling?
Ultimately, you cannot force your son or daughter to stop gambling. However, your approval or disapproval remains one of the strongest influences in your child’s life. Whether your child is a teenager or a fully independent adult, your opinion, values and experience matter. You can guide them and encourage them to get help when you notice a problem.
How to Help Someone with a Gambling Problem
If you notice troubling behavior such as excessive and unexplained time on the internet or unusual credit card charges, your child may have a problem with gambling. Here are three easy steps you can take to address this issue head-on:
- Confront: Have an honest conversation with your child about your concerns. Reaffirm your family values and tell them outright that their actions are unacceptable. They may feel tremendous relief, as they have undoubtedly struggled with the shame and burden of their addiction’s overwhelming weight.
- Console: Your child wants to know that, through everything, you love them. Let them know that you will walk with them to get help, but that they must stop their unhealthy gambling behaviors.
- Counsel: Because gambling is a disease, specialized treatment may be the only way to help your child stop and learn techniques to control their behavior.
Help is Available for Your Child at Gateway Foundation
You may feel overwhelmed right now as you try to do what’s best for your child. Don’t wait to seek help. Gambling is a serious addiction that can lead to dangerous financial and personal difficulties for the whole family. If a gambling addiction has taken hold of your son or daughter’s life, Gateway Foundation is here to help. We specialize in individualized treatment tailored to your child’s specific needs.
Those with gambling problems do recover, and families can heal. Contact us today to learn about your child’s first steps toward gambling addiction recovery.