Support for Gamblers and Families


Gambling-related disorders can cause financial, social, emotional, career, and bodily harm. These negative consequences might affect more than just the gambler, generating a ripple effect across their social network.

Gambling's negative effects can have a significant influence on the gambler's family, intimate partners, and close friends.

Let's take a look at various resources that provide assistance for gambling issues, for both gamblers and their close ones.

Compulsive Gambling - What does it look like?

Gambling problems can develop gradually over time or immediately after a person puts their first bet. As the condition worsens, the person can gamble more frequently and for massive sums.

Recognizing the Signs of Compulsive Gambling

Let's take a look at some signs and behaviours that may indicate the start of a gambling addiction:

Increasing preoccupation with gambling activities

Spending more time and money on gambling than originally intended

Inability to control or stop gambling despite negative consequences

Restlessness or irritability when attempting to cut down or stop gambling

Lying or concealing the extent of gambling behaviour from others

Borrowing money or engaging in illegal activities to fund gambling

Neglecting responsibilities at work, school, or home due to gambling

Relationship problems, including arguments or conflicts related to gambling

Experiencing withdrawal symptoms when unable to gamble, such as mood swings or anxiety

Continuously chasing losses with hopes of recouping previous gambling losses

Factors that Influence Gambling Addictions

While not all individuals who engage in gambling develop an addiction, certain individuals exhibit greater susceptibility to this disorder than others.

Although the precise underlying causes of compulsive gambling remain unclear to experts, it is believed that a combination of factors, including biological, genetic, and environmental influences, may play a role in its development.

Compulsive gambling shares similarities with substance use disorders, as both involve the activation of the brain's reward system.

Just as with narcotics or alcohol, gambling can stimulate repeated seeking behaviours, leading individuals down a path towards addiction over time.

Gambling, for some obsessive gamblers, is about more than simply money. Instead, it offers an escape and a way into a "zone."

How does Gambling affect families? 

Gambling can undermine family trust and function, possibly causing challenges. A gambling addiction can lead to serious financial, psychological, and emotional difficulties.

1. Financial Instability

Out-of-control gambling & frequent losses have an impact on the family's finances. Well-meaning family members, generally the gambler's spouse, frequently attempt to assist the gambler by:

Lending them money.

Getting them out of financial trouble.

Saving funds for them to gamble.

Eventually, the financial losses become too high. The family may lose assets like their home or may have to declare bankruptcy.

2. Relation breakdowns

A relationship collapse may occur when the spouse, children, or siblings lose faith in the gambler. Behaviour such as lying, staying out late, threats & manipulation all lead to the breakdown of family relationships.

Shame, avoidance, secrecy, and attempts to hide sorrow exacerbate the isolation that family members experience when the gambler's conduct spirals out of control.

3. Emotional & Psychological Devastation

Inevitably, the spouse of the problem or habitual gambler attempts to fill the void. They frequently make reasons to other family members for the gambler's conduct and whereabouts.

The web of deception grows more complex as the spouse attempts to hold things together and maintain a sense of normalcy despite everything coming apart. 

Tips to Deal with Gambling Addiction

Responding to a problem gambler takes both empathy and toughness.

Separate joint funds so that the problem gambler cannot access your money to gamble.

If the gambler makes commitments that they consistently break, they may not be sincere about quitting gaming. Problem gamblers may tell their family what they want to hear rather than the reality.

You cannot compel someone to quit gambling. Do modify your situation to secure your family from the gambler.

Experts can give valuable knowledge about problem gambling and specialized techniques.

Support for Gamblers and Family Members

Here are some resources and tips that gamblers and family members can avail of to overcome the situation:

Support for Gamblers

1. Online self-assessment tools

Online self-assessment tools offer an accessible way for individuals to gauge their gambling habits and determine if they may be developing problematic behaviours.

These tools often provide personalised feedback and recommendations for seeking help if necessary, enabling users to take proactive steps towards managing their gambling activities.

2. Counselling and therapy options

Trained therapists can help gamblers address underlying issues contributing to their behaviour, develop coping strategies, and establish healthier habits.

Through one-on-one sessions, gamblers can explore the root causes of their addiction and work towards recovery in a supportive and non-judgmental environment.

3. Support groups and communities

Support groups for gamblers offer a sense of belonging and understanding for gamblers seeking recovery.

By participating in support groups, gamblers can build a strong support network, gain insights from others' journeys, and stay motivated on their path to recovery.

Support for Families

Family support for gamblers is crucial for recovery. However, family members may also need help overcoming feelings of mistrust, helplessness, and frustration. 

1. Understanding the impact on family members

Understanding the impact on family members is crucial in addressing the ripple effects of gambling addiction.

Resources that educate families about the emotional, financial, and interpersonal consequences of problem gambling can foster empathy and facilitate constructive communication within the family unit. 

2. Family counselling and therapy resources

Family counselling and therapy resources offer a safe space for families to address the dynamics and challenges associated with a loved one's gambling addiction.

Through therapy sessions facilitated by trained professionals, families can explore communication patterns, set boundaries, and develop coping strategies collectively. 

3. Support groups for families of problem gamblers

Support groups for families of problem gamblers provide a supportive environment where family members can connect with others facing similar experiences. 

By participating in support groups, families can find solace in knowing they are not alone, access valuable resources and guidance, and strengthen their ability to support their loved ones on the path to recovery.

Wrapping Up

While progress is undoubtedly a positive step, it's important to acknowledge that even after individuals have fulfilled their financial obligations, relapses can occur.

Some people can start to convince themselves that because their gambling is no longer as harmful, occasional gambling will not affect them. It's crucial to maintain support and understanding during these times.

If someone does decide to gamble again, try to avoid expressing disappointment excessively. Encouraging them to reflect on the factors contributing to their relapse by writing them down can provide valuable insights into triggers and warning signs for the future.

There are numerous groups and resources available to help anyone impacted by gambling. Remember - The first step starts with talking about it!