What can motivate an addicted child?

Helping a gambling addict Help for players

In fact, there are a number of ways you can help your gambling addict loved one. However, one should not expect miracles: An addiction cannot be overcome overnight and setbacks are inevitable.

As a caring family member, you should be aware of a few things:

  • Don't expect thanks. You may even be confronted with rejection and anger at first.
  • A change in behavior can only come from the person affected - you can only help.
  • There is no such thing as 100% security - even the best help does not guarantee permanent improvement.
  • Be aware of your own needs and limits.


A change in behavior can only occur if your gambling addict family member wants it too. In most cases, however, the willingness to abstain is not (yet) present. It is therefore important first of all to motivate the loved one.

Motivate but does not mean exerting pressure, threatening or issuing an ultimatum. Instead, try to get your loved one to seek therapy or at least contact a counseling center. Since many of those affected initially lack insight, your suggestion will probably not meet with much enthusiasm. This is where it can help to lead by example.

Since you, as a relative, also suffer from their addiction, you can first seek advice and help yourself. In this way you not only make your own situation easier, but also send a signal to your loved one: It is good and important to seek help. Visiting a professional counseling center is nothing to be ashamed of.

Sufferers repeatedly express various reasons why they do not want therapy. The following table provides an argumentation aid:

You would get help, but you don't know where.Offer to look for the right job. Take care of the necessary steps such as the first contact and accompany your family member (if desired) to the first appointment. You can find an overview of possible help centers here.
The problem should be solved by oneself, without external help.The chances of success are significantly lower. Time and energy would be better spent in therapy. Trying it alone has no advantages, so why not try it right away "correct“?
Even if it is often not spoken out loud, shame and fear are a common reason not to seek professional help.Many professional institutions can also be visited anonymously. In addition, there is no need to be ashamed: gambling addiction is an illness. It is perfectly normal to seek treatment for an illness. Just as it is normal to see a doctor with a fever, it is normal to need help with gambling addiction. Almost 500,000 people in Germany suffer from problematic gaming behavior, so you are not alone.
Refusal to admit the problemUse sober facts and figures to clarify the problem without judging. Avoid accusations and stay as neutral as possible. Financial problems are easy to demonstrate with the help of numbers. But also think of other areas of life: neglecting family and hobbies are just as much a consequence of gambling addiction as a frequent aggressive or depressive mood. For example, compare the current situation with life before the addiction.

Many gambling addicts only seek treatment when the external pressure becomes too strong. These include problems in the family, with the employer or even criminal charges and court appointments. It may be that this high pressure is necessary to finally start therapy - it would be better, however, to treat the disease earlier. A high level of psychological distress is a good motivator, but it can also promote fears, insults and conflicts. The efforts to motivate your loved one through discussions and arguments are therefore always sensible.

Motivation is a dynamic process - motivation changes depending on the mood, environment, time of day, etc ... So it can happen that after a few hours you don't want to hear about decisions that you made when you were in a good mood. Nevertheless, try to remain consistent: If your relative has agreed to an initial contact with a counseling center, action should follow as soon as possible.

Financial problems

Sooner or later there will be financial problems. However, these are initially not fully recognized. It can be difficult for the player to come to terms with reality: he lives the dream of big profits, fast money and unlimited opportunities.

Try to give your loved one a realistic picture of their finances - ideally before the bank does. In many cases it will also be necessary to relearn how to handle money.

Financial problems with gambling addiction

Even high-priced consumer goods can seem comparatively cheap compared to losses or gains when gambling. In phases of abstinence, it can be tempting for players to turn the money that would otherwise be wasted into consumer goods "invest“Or to reward yourself for abstinence. Living beyond one's means also reduces the pressure to play: So large amounts of money saved would be tempting and lead the player back into his addiction.

In the long run, however, any high spending only leads to further debt and desperate attempts to pay off the debt by gambling again.

Do not lend money to your loved one or assume any debts.

If the player becomes aware of his unfortunate financial situation, it can lead to depressive moods and even suicide attempts. So stay as optimistic as possible, but realistic. Point out ways and means of reducing debt and offer your help with budgeting or planning Money management at. But also make it clear that under no circumstances will you lend money or assume debts.

You can keep the following points in mind when managing money:

  • First, make an accurate list of all debts. This includes not only debts with the bank, but also with friends and relatives.
  • Make a budget:
    1.) Think about the monthly income.
    2.) Now make a note of the essential lifestyle expenses. Make sure you have a realistic estimate of the cost of food, running costs (housing, insurance, telephone, taxes, etc ...), children, etc.
    3.) Add the debt repayment installments to the fixed costs.
  • Keep a journal in which all expenses are noted.
  • Determine together an amount for personal disposal. The amount should not be too high (to prevent relapse). Make sure, however, that too low an amount can be perceived as patronizing or insulting.
  • Set up one account at your bank to cover fixed costs and one for personal use. Make sure that the relatives who are addicted to gambling do not have access to the fixed cost account and cannot overdraw their personal account.
  • Remember that taking over the complete administration of the money can be perceived as an encroachment on personal freedom. You can find more tips here.
  • Check regularly that all necessary invoices have been paid and that the bank statements match the agreements.

Motivation is not only necessary to maintain abstinence, but also to slowly pay off debt.

Responsibility for yourself

Gambling addiction rarely affects the player alone. In most cases, the social environment, family and partner also suffer from the disease. As a relative, you also belong to the group of people affected: Not only the gambling addict needs help, you also deserve support.

With that in mind, you should also think about how you can help yourself. First of all, this concerns financial security: set up your own account that only you have access to. Then, as part of joint money management, ensure that a reserve remains in your private account for emergencies.

But your emotional well-being is also important! Find a balance and keep your freedom open. Try as best you can not to let addiction become your problem. The consequences of gambling addiction have probably already given you a few sleepless nights. Take a short break every now and then and allow yourself enough relaxation.

An addiction can extend over several years. So you have to learn to be careful with your strength. Ask friends and relatives for help as soon as you notice that you have reached your limit. Also consider the possibility of professional advice or a self-help group.

It is perfectly normal to feel frustrated and disappointed with relapses. Setbacks are part of the healing process and shouldn't be overstated. Many relatives then feel that they have not done enough or that they themselves are partly to blame for the addiction. Such thoughts are usually unfounded - the player is solely responsible for the game.

When the child is addicted to gambling

In many cases, the relatives who are addicted to gambling are their own children. Since gambling addiction often develops in young adulthood, many gamblers live with their parents. In addition, due to the financial problems, living at home is the only affordable option.

This is a difficult situation for parents: They want to help the child, but often only finance their addiction. Sometimes the parents also blame themselves for the disease and now have the feeling that they have failed as parents.

If you are an affected parent, there are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Do not assume debt or be rushed to finance the addiction.
  • It is good if you want to take responsibility for your child, but you are not responsible for the addiction.
  • You can play an important role in the therapy process, get help from a professional player advice center.
  • Your child's personality may be changed by addiction to gambling (or therapy). This may make it necessary to adapt the old, familiar form of family life to the new circumstances.
  • In spite of everything, give the child enough freedom to go their own way.
  • Try to emancipate yourself as parents: By shaping your own life according to your own wishes and needs, you will also help your child to find an independent, self-determined life more quickly.