To help or not to help
anonymous Asks ...
Is gambling as hard to quit doing as as addiction to crack or heroin? I am trying to understand a relative's very irresponsible behavior and explanation for that behavior.
Jill Edwards Says ...
It is very hard to define hard to quit. It is true that the adrenaline rush involved in gambling can be part of an almost chemical addiction, but gambling is based on experiencing the fantasy of success and the fear of failure and like most addictions brings about a very low self confidence, which is often why quitting is so difficult. At a suitable point your relative could benefit from counselling which will help him to see why gambling was his/drug of choice and put it in the context of this life experiences.
For the present, while he/she is in active mode, it is useful if you do not lend money or resources, or be at risk of their being taken. The importance of this is that this person needs to experience the results of their actions in order to have a real opportunity to make changes. This can be hard but it helps in the end. This is more effective than shouting, imploring, understanding or supporting the person.
You and others can explain that this is not because you do not care or love the person, but simply that you cannot help, there is nothing that you can do that will help the person. They need to make up their mind. All you can do is to avoid distorting reality for them, by being helpful after the gambling has taken place.
There is always an explanation, in which they avoid being fully responsible for their actions, but it is their accepting responsibility which will bring about recovery.
Please do contact Gambling Anonymous and ask for support for yourselves. You are the people suffering most at the present as you are standing in the light of reality and bearing the consequences instead of your relative and taking the hard road, really needs some support, both to give you strength and give you a chance to re-constrict your thinking.