An estimated 10 million Americans are struggling with a gambling addiction. That sounds like a shocking statistic for a problem that’s rarely discussed. The reality is that as common as gambling addiction is, enabling is even more prominent.
As with other forms of addiction, many gambling addicts need to hit “rock bottom” before seeking help. Enabling someone allows them to keep functioning with their addiction so they never hit rock bottom. It’s often done out of love because you don’t want to see them unhappy. In the long run, though, it keeps them from recognizing and addressing their addiction.
When your loved one is addicted to gambling, there’s a fine line between helping and enabling. If you’re not sure whether you’re helping or hurting a gambling addict, consider these signs.
6 Signs You’re Enabling a Gambling Addict
The best way to help a gambling addict is to refuse to enable them. If you’re not sure whether you’re an enabler, ask yourself if any of these signs describe you.
1. You’re Hesitant to Admit the Addiction
Admitting that your loved one has a gambling addiction isn’t easy. If you don’t face the problem, though, enabling can sneak up on you.
For instance, you may say, “It’s not a big deal if she gambled away the rent money, it was just one night of fun.”
2. You Lie to Others to Cover For the Addict
For a casual gambler, it’s not a problem to be honest about what they’re doing. If you find yourself lying to an addict’s kids about where their parent is or lying to the addict’s boss, though, you may be enabling them.
3. You Prioritize the Addict’s Gambling Over Your Needs
The key hallmark of enabling an addict is that you sacrifice your needs to feed their addiction. You might be giving them money you can’t afford to give or don’t want to give. This also applies to sacrificing your time, happiness, and need for affection.
4. You Find Other People to Blame for the Addict’s Behavior
No one wants to think negatively about someone they love. However, if you’re making excuses and blaming others for an addict’s behavior, it’s a sign that you may be enabling them. Emotional enabling by allowing an addict to escape responsibility has the same effect as enabling them by giving them money.
5. You Appease the Addict Out of Fear
Addicts tend to have extreme reactions when they don’t get what they want because they’re desperate. Enablers are understandably afraid of these reactions and do anything necessary to avoid these reactions.
If this is the case, family therapy is a good follow-up after the addict has sought treatment. This helps the whole family regain trust and safety.
6. You Find Yourself Resenting the Addict
Any close relationship should benefit both parties. If you feel that you’re always the one giving, it’s common to start resenting your loved one. If you feel resentful toward an addict, it often means you’ve put their needs ahead of yours and it’s a sign of enabling.
What to Do if You’re Enabling a Gambling Addict
Enabling a gambling addict is easy to start doing and hard to stop. Rest assured that putting a stop to enabling is an act of love that will only help your loved one in the long run.
If you think you’re enabling a gambling addict, contact our addiction specialists for guidance.