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Parents

Problem gambling is an addiction that can strike anyone, even the people who raised us. It can affect people on any income level and in any age group.

Approximately two million Americans (one percent) suffer from a pathological gambling problem, while another two to three percent have less significant, yet serious, problems with their gambling.

If your parent is spending an excessive amount of time gambling at the expense of family time, using gambling as a means to cope with loneliness or other emotions or behaving in a secretive manner – especially in regard to finances – it may be a good indication that a problem exists. If this is the case, a direct conversation is the best way to express your concerns and offer support.

Signs and symptoms

A gambling addiction can be difficult to spot, but crucial to identify. If you suspect your parent is compulsive in their gambling behavior, keep in mind the following questions:

  • Are they trying to be inconspicuous about their gaming?
  • Are finance questions met with angry denials or evasive answers?
  • Do they use the family dynamic – as in “I am your parent, not the other way around” – to dismiss your concerns?

If so, it may be worth investigating your suspicions more fully in a respectful and supportive manner.

Where can you get help for your parent?

The following resources are available:

  • Minnesota’s 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 www.nojudgement.com and are listed by county, city, and provider.
    • Call Minnesota’s 24-hour, toll-free, confidential helpline at 1-800-333-HOPE or text HOPE to 61222.
  • Gamblers Anonymous
    • Uses a 12-step recovery program
    • Offers peer-led support groups
    • A list of local meetings available by calling 1-800-333-HOPE
  • National Problem Gambling Help Line
    • Free, 24/7 availability
    • Available at 1-800-522-4700
    • Answers questions and provides resource information
Support groups for you

One of the best ways to assist someone struggling with a gambling problem is to know the resources available to you. To connect with a support system or to seek counseling the following resources are available:

  • Minnesota’s Problem Gambling Program
    • Provides public education
    • 24-hour, toll-free, confidential help line: 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
What to say to a parent with a gambling problem

It can be difficult to talk to a parent about finances, especially in relation to problem gambling. Nonetheless, you are in a unique position to help your parent receive the help and care they need; you need to intervene for the sake of their psychological, emotional and financial health.

When beginning a conversation, remember to explain how much you care about them and what you want them to do. By expressing your concern, you can also clarify your feelings regarding their gambling and make them accountable for their addictive behavior. Be specific, non-judgmental and offer to help.

Having trouble starting a conversation?

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

Call for confidential help

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