My Son is Addicted to Gambling – Why Can’t He Just Stop Gambling?

If you’ve found out your son is addicted to gambling, you’re likely to be worried, upset or even angry. Your son’s gambling habit is now causing him serious problems – his finances, relationships and health are suffering. But he still repeats the same destructive cycle – winning occasionally but chasing losses more. You find it hard to understand why he keeps doing this. Despite all the advice and consequences, he just can’t stop gambling.

Instinctively, you want your son to change. You may have asked him to stop gambling many times. He may have asked for your help with money, promising that he won’t place any more bets. But the draw of gambling is impossible for him to resist – whether he bets on the football or horses plays cards or online games, uses fixed-odds betting terminals or gambles in casinos.

In families, addiction can be really hard to talk about. So your son might be addicted to gambling and you don’t know how to raise the subject. Or he becomes angry or distant when you mention gambling. If this is true for you, you’re certainly not alone. Many parents struggle to communicate with their child about addiction – they often tell us it’s hard to find the right words.

This is where Addiction Helper can help you. In this blog, we’ll explain why getting your son to stop gambling is just the start of his recovery process. The keys to sustainable gambling recovery are in understanding and overcoming his compulsions to gamble. Addiction Helper recommends addiction treatment programmes and skilled addiction professionals, who have a track record of treating the underlying causes of addiction – including emotional distress, mental health problems or trauma. Effective treatment for gambling addiction is very practical too – it’s about equipping your son with a new set of skills to maintain his recovery.

The Compulsion to Gamble – Why It’s So Hard for Your Son to Stop Gambling

When your son is addicted to gambling, it’s completely understandable to focus on gambling as the cause of all his problems. All your energy, advice and efforts go into persuading your son to stop gambling. If he does manage to stop, you feel relieved or elated. But then disappointment or upset follows when he returns to old habits.

Your son may desperately want to stop gambling too – but just like you, he probably doesn’t understand the real reasons why he is addicted to gambling. Most people in the grips of gambling addiction don’t have a clear understanding of what drives their destructive behaviour. This is particularly true for people who have never had specialist addiction treatment.

Your son may even have stopped gambling many times. He’s lasted for hours, days or even weeks. But something happens each time he stops gambling, which compels him to gamble again. This is where professional support for gambling addiction comes in.

Support to Stop Gambling and Sustain Addiction Recovery

Of course, being willing to stop gambling is an important start to your son’s recovery process.

At Addiction Helper, we often recommend abstinence-based treatment for gambling addiction. This is where clients are required to stop gambling at the start of their addiction treatment. For anyone who finds this hard to do, residential rehab programmes remove the means people have to gamble. Often, people are temporary without their mobile phone and visits are limited, for example. This allows gambling addicts to focus fully on their treatment and recovery.

Whether in residential rehab or outpatient counselling, specialist therapies uncover the underlying causes of gambling addiction. How do people feel when they are not gambling? What is going on mentally, physically or emotionally? Why is real life so painful or unsatisfactory that destructive gambling feels like an answer?

Of course, the addictive nature of specific gambling activities is also addressed in treatment. Why are fixed odds betting terminals so irresistible for your son, for example? Or what is it about betting on football results that keeps drawing him in? Usually, there are underlying processes or beliefs that keep your son addicted to particular gambling activities.

Gambling addiction treatment also gives people strategies to cope with day-to-day triggers or cravings to gamble. This helps to prevent relapse and enhance people’s quality of life.

Is Gambling Addiction Really an Illness?

The National Health Service acknowledges the threat and health harms of gambling addiction – including the proven link with depression, anxiety and stress. At the most serious end, gambling addicts lose their lives to suicide. Two people who are addicted to gambling end their lives each day.

In the end, it doesn’t really matter if you define gambling addiction as an illness or just very harmful behaviour. There are still devastating health consequences for people who are addicted to gambling, as well as many other negative impacts on their relationships, finances, jobs and opportunities.

By treating gambling addiction as a health issue, it provides a supportive framework for people to prioritise their health and well-being going forward. This mindset is useful for sustaining recovery from gambling addiction, as it encourages much more open dialogue with GPs, recovering gambling addicts and local support services.

Help for People Addicted to Gambling

It takes a lot of courage to reach out for help for gambling addiction – for yourself or for a loved one. Your call or message is confidential. Our friendly and skilled addictions counsellors are available at a convenient time for you – day or night. There is a way out and gambling addiction treatment can be arranged very quickly. Please get in touch with Addiction Helper today.

Who am I contacting?

Calls and contact requests are answered by admissions at

UK Addiction Treatment Group.

We look forward to helping you take your first step.

0800 024 1476calling