Emotional Difficulties for Family Members of Problem Gamblers

24/7, Confidential, and Multilingual Problem Gambling HelpLine: 888-ADMIT-IT

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Emotional Difficulties for Family Members of Problem Gamblers

As gambling promotions, access, and opportunities continue to grow both nationally and in the Sunshine State, so does the number of people reporting problems related to it. When someone close to you has a gambling problem, it can affect your life as well. It is difficult to understand all that goes along with this hidden addiction, especially when a loved one is impacted. You must remember to put yourself first. You have the right to protect yourself and your family emotionally and financially from this disorder.

It is not within your power to change the problem gambler. They have to want to change. Importantly, know that when fighting gambling addiction, it is both you and your loved one fighting the disease together as a team. This is a hard battle and one that can rage on for some time with successes and setbacks.

One of the symptoms or side-effects of disordered gambling is pathological lying. The gambler’s brain is damaged and the only way it knows to keep the addiction alive at times is to lie about it. This is very difficult for a loved one to understand, especially if the gambler was not a liar in the past. This is part of the addiction. Many family members will unknowingly enable the compulsive gambler by lying for them in order to hide the problem from others, because of shame. Don’t try and take control of their lives. They may be living in deep shame and feel out of control and scared deep down. The first step for you is to understand you are not alone and that there is help out there for you: call or text the 24/7, Confidential, and Multilingual Florida Problem Gambling HelpLine at 888-ADMIT-IT. There are many resources that can aid you in your battle going forward.

If you are the spouse of the disordered gambler, you may feel fear, anxiety, anger, and you may act out in ways you normally wouldn’t – like overdrinking or overeating. These can all be normal reactions, so don’t hesitate to find a trusted friend you can share your feelings with. Keeping it a secret will do nothing but make it worse. The stress of living day to day with disordered gambling impacts the whole family, including children. Signs of difficulty can arise , trouble concentrating on schoolwork, experiencing family arguments, domestic violence, food insecurity, and homelessness.

Look after yourself first – that is all you really have any control over. Take care of your finances and your health. Socializing with others can help clear your head to keep you from being overwhelmed and consumed, and exercising can help you work through the stress. The FCCG’s 888-ADMIT-IT HelpLine and gamblinghelp.org website can connect you to many resources such as such as the FCCG’s Peer Connect Program, the FCCG’s Financial Debt and Budgeting Toolkit (Budget Tool), Legal Assistance Resources and Supports, the FCCG’s A Chance for Change” Recovery Workbooks, and many more!

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