If you are finding it hard to talk about your gambling, or to seek support, you’re not alone – many people feel like this. This is one of the biggest barriers to people seeking help and talking openly about their gambling concerns. Often, they feel worried they’ll be judged by others about their experiences. This is called stigma. But you need to know that it’s ok to talk freely and openly about any gambling worries you or a loved one may be experiencing.
Breaking down stigma
People sometimes feel judged or discriminated against because of the stigma around gambling harms. This stigma can stop people affected by gambling harms from getting the right help and being able to talk openly about their challenges.
Harms from gambling can happen to anyone in all walks of life. 1 in 4 people think they know someone who has experienced problems with gambling. Being labelled and judged for experiencing gambling harms is wrong. If you have any difficulties with gambling, or how it makes you feel, talking to someone will help.
How to have a conversation about gambling ….
Talking freely about your gambling worries, or someone else’s, can feel difficult. But there are simple ways to help you have a good conversation with someone you trust.
When talking to someone else about their gambling, let them know you’re concerned because you care about them. This can help them feel safe to speak openly and will allow you to develop and negotiate a plan together.
These conversation starters may help. You can use or adapt the ideas below to help you begin a great chat about gambling worries.
Talk to someone about your own gambling:
- “I feel scared and embarrassed to tell anyone what I’ve been going through.”
- "I have bills to pay and it feels as though there is no other way to get more money.”
- "I started playing and it drew me in. It was the only escape I had.”
- "I started playing this game, and it’s really easy to lose track of everything else. Do you ever get that?”
- “These games really follow me around, the advertisements and notifications are everywhere. What do you think I should do about that?”
- “How would I even know if I’m gambling a bit too much?”
- “I’ve not been feeling like myself lately.”
- “I’m finding it hard to cope at the moment.”
- “I feel as though I’m maybe losing control of how often I’m gambling?”
Talk to someone about their gambling:
- “I can see you’re not happy at the moment. Is there anything you want to talk about?”
- “Are you okay, you don’t seem like yourself at the moment?”
- “I’ve noticed you’ve been gambling a lot recently and it’s starting to make me worry.”
- “Do you feel your gambling might be tipping into something less enjoyable?”
- “Do you want to talk about how you’re feeling about your gambling?”
Possible responses (if they don't seem worried about their gambling):
- “I’ve noticed you’ve been gambling a lot recently, is everything OK? Is there anything I can do to help?
- “I’ve noticed you gamble a fair bit; how do you feel when you can’t?”
- “I can imagine it feels quite lonely, do you want to talk to a friend?”
- “This must be really difficult for you, but you might find it helpful to talk to someone.”
- “Are there other friends that you might feel more comfortable talking about this with?”
- “Sometimes it’s easier to talk to someone you don’t know about things that are bothering you. The PEI Gambling Support Line is totally confidential and is available all day, every day whenever you are ready to talk.”
Possible responses (if they have said they are worried about their gambling):
- “Thank you for being honest and not keeping this a secret.”
- “How can I support you?”
- “I really appreciate you sharing this with me, that must have been really hard. I hope you know you aren’t on your own.”
- “Talking about it is a huge achievement – there are ways to get help.”
- “I’ve heard the PEI Gambling Support Line #1-855-255-4255 can be a great way to connect for help with gambling worries. It’s confidential and available 24/7 when you need it. And we could call together if you like.”
- “Have you thought about visiting PEIGamblingSupport.com? I know they have tools and tips on their website, I can have a look with you if you think that would help?”
- “That must be quite difficult, I’m happy to help you find out what you can do about it.”
If you’re worried about your own gambling, it can be difficult to know what to say. Try talking to a trusted friend or family member as a first step.
You can also talk confidentially with someone, all day, every day on the toll-free PEI Gambling Support Line: #1-855-255-4255. The Support Line is available 24/7 to offer help, information and resources for gamblers and their concerned loved ones.
Information for the creation of this blog post gathered from www.begambleaware.org