Youth

Problem gambling can interfere with an individual’s everyday life. While recreational gambling is simply fun for most people, problem gambling is something else entirely; it is a serious issue requiring intervention and treatment.

Young people in particular are at greater risk as they are three times more likely to develop a gambling problem. Research has shown that on average, four to eight percent of 12-17 year olds struggle with gambling problems, while another 10-15 percent is at risk of developing an disorder.

Individuals with a gambling problem are more likely to smoke, drink and commit a crime, and often suffer depression, academic and relationship problems, and financial issues. Because of this, it is imperative to address and seek treatment to combat a potentially devastating and dangerous disorder.

Gambling can quickly become a downward spiral for college-age students or young professionals who make it a frequent habit. In fact, nearly six percent of college students in the U.S. have a gambling problem. For these reasons, the Minnesota Department of Human Services launched the “Just Ask MN” young adult campaign to raise awareness about the risks associated with gambling among Minnesota’s college-aged population (18-25 years).

Just Ask MN provides content that connects this younger, at-risk demographic to educational resources and information about gambling activities, the consequences associated with risky gambling behavior, and how to better understand the signs of a problem in order to get help.

Using educational tools and tips to “play it safe“, the site includes a campaign video, a self-assessment questionnaire, resources for gambling help, and financial tips to educate and promote safe money management.

Those who want to have the conversation can start by calling the statewide confidential helpline at 1-800-333-HOPE or texting HOPE to 61222.

Keep an eye on your friends before gambling becomes a problem for them, too. The conversation may not always be easy to bring up, but you may be the only one who notices a change. Below are some warning signs to look out for. You can always call the helpline as well to understand how you can help someone you care about. 


Signs and symptoms

While problem gambling signs vary for each individual, it is important to recognize and discuss rapid changes in a family member’s everyday behavior. Are they leaving or missing at unusual times? Do they retell stories of gambling victories, but seemingly never mention a loss? Have they ever asked to borrow money?

Know the Warning Signs of a Gambling Problem:

  • Gambling longer than planned
  • Gambling until the last dollar is gone
  • Thoughts of gambling preoccupy daily life
  • Bills begin to go unpaid
  • Attempts to stop gambling are unsuccessful
  • Criminal activity to fuel gambling
  • Borrowing money from friends and family
  • Feelings of depression or suicide after losing
  • Feelings of remorse after gambling
  • Gambling to meet financial obligations

For more facts and research on problem gambling among millennials, click here.

If early signs of compulsive behavior are detected, it is important to start the conversation before the issue overwhelms their life.


Where can you get help for your family member?

One of the best ways to assist someone struggling with a gambling problem is to know the resources available to you. The following resources are available when reaching out to a spouse/significant other who has a gambling problem:

Resources

One of the best ways to assist someone struggling with a gambling problem is to know the resources available to you. The following resources are available:

Minnesota Problem Gambling Program

  • There are State funds available for treatment services to Minnesota residents who meet the clinical diagnosis for compulsive gambling and demonstrate financial need.
  • State-approved treatment providers can be found at nojudgement.com and are listed by county, city. and provider.
  • Call Minnesota’s 24-hour, toll-free, confidential help line at 1-800-333-HOPE or text HOPE to 61222.

Support Groups

GAMBLER ANONYMOUS

• Uses a 12-step recovery program

• Offers peer-led support groups

• A list of local meetings available by calling 1-800-333-HOPE

GAM-Anon

• Peer-led support group for spouses, relatives or close friends
• Provides immediate support in a crisis
• List of local meetings available by calling 1-800-333-HOPE

Having trouble starting a conversation?

Each situation is different. To help, please read the tips.

CALL FOR CONFIDENTIAL HELP

Call Minnesota’s 24-hour, toll-free, confidential help line at 1-800-333-HOPE or text HOPE to 61222.

Treatment is available free of charge for qualifying individuals throughout Minnesota.


What to say to someone with a gambling problem

Talking to a family member or someone you care about with a gambling disorder can be especially difficult because you are not only invested in their recovery as a person, but also as it relates to the relationship you have with that person. That is why encouraging healthy behavior sometimes takes a direct conversation.

When engaging a family member or someone you care about in a discussion about their problem gambling, remember to be specific and use examples. Explain that you see a problem and what you are willing to do to help. Above all else, do not be judgmental and keep the door open for future conversations.

Having trouble starting a conversation?

Each situation is different. To help, please read the tips.

Tips for Talking to a Family Member About Problem Gambling

Tell them you’re concerned. Express to them that your love for them as a family member is unconditional and that you want them to get help for their problem gambling.

Example: _________, I need to talk to you about something serious. I’ve noticed recently that you haven’t been your usual self, and I’m concerned. You’re very important to me, and I don’t want anything to damage our relationship. I want to know if we can talk about what might be going on?

Be specific about your concerns. Tell them how their gambling interferes with their family life and relationship with you. Let them know how it is negatively affecting your relationship.

Example: I’m concerned about the extent to which gambling has become a part of your life and how it’s affecting your relationships. As your niece/grandson/brother, you are very important to me.

Don’t judge, instead listen. If you want them to hear you out, you need to give them the same courtesy. Allow them to speak their mind, and let them know you heard what they have to say.

Example: __________, I hear what you have to say and want to help you find a solution before the situation becomes worse.

Say what you want them to do. The point of talking to them in the first place is so they know they need help. Have a direct conversation, be specific and use examples. Ask them to seek counseling or enroll in a gambling recovery group.

Example: I’d like to help you find a way to fix this. I know of a 24-hour, confidential hotline you could call (800-333-HOPE) and a few gambling recovery programs. I’d like you to call one of these services.

Offer to help; explain why you care. Let them know that you are approaching them because you care and offer to be an aid in their recovery. From making the phone call for help to attending meetings with them, there are a variety of ways to help them – from easy to involved.

Example: I want you to know that I am here to help in any way I can. I wouldn’t have come to you if I didn’t value our relationship so much. If you need support, you have someone you can count on.

Keep the door open for future talks. Talking to a family member with a gambling addiction can be especially difficult. Above all else, don’t be judgmental and keep the door open for future conversations. If you engage them in a hostile way, they will most likely shut down and ignore your attempts to help. Handle the subject with care so they feel like you are a resource in their recovery.

Example: __________, you are a good person. You’re human. Let’s deal with this together. Take it one step at a time.

CALL FOR CONFIDENTIAL HELP

Call Minnesota’s 24-hour, toll-free, confidential helpline at 1-800-333-HOPE or text HOPE to 61222.

In addition to the free helpline, treatment is available free of charge for qualifying individuals throughout Minnesota.