Even If You Never Place a Bet, You Can Still Be Impacted by Problem Gambling. Here’s How.
Living with a compulsive gambler can be life-changing in many ways. In addition to the financial difficulties, stress created by a gambling addiction in the family can manifest in loved ones emotionally and lead to significant relationship problems. It is common for family members and loved ones of an individual with gambling problems to feel anger, betrayal, or fear. Increased stress and worry can lead to physical and mental health problems for the gambler’s loved ones, including anxiety and depression. You are not alone. The 888 ADMIT-IT HelpLine is available 24/7 for ANYONE impacted by problem gambling!
For someone who lives and shares finances with a disordered gambler, the emotions can be overwhelming and can lead to self-destructive behaviors. There is a tendency to react to negative behaviors of others with rash actions and self-defeating behaviors. There is evidence that shows substance abuse along with over-eating are used as ways to cope, escape, or give a feeling of control for oneself. For a loved one, the thought may be something like, “If you can gamble all of our money away, I can drink as much as I want.”
With problem gambling, there are different ways a loved one may unconsciously believe they are helping or have some control. It can be a belief such as, “If I go and gamble with them, I can control how much and how long they gamble.” This may work in the beginning, but as the addiction progresses within the gambler, so do the negative self-behaviors of the loved one. When gambling alongside the problem gambler doesn’t work, loved ones may unconsciously over-spend money with the idea that there won’t be any money left for the gambler to bet. Over time a sense of urgency sets in, inspired by a lack of control, which may cause vulnerability and cause the loved one to acquire his or her own addictive behaviors.
There are other various negative impacts of problem gambling on emotional wellbeing, mental and physical health, and relationships. Because of gambling, many loved ones report a loss of respect and trust for the gambler due to lies, dishonesty, and betrayal. In the end, it is not only the compulsive gambler who is suffering. Loved ones may conclude that the only way they can live with the impacts of gambling addiction is to escape themselves into whatever can numb this despair, a destructive pattern which can itself lead to addiction.
The Importance of Promoting Positive Self-Care
As you can see or may know already from experience, it isn’t easy to escape the self-destructive, reactive behaviors and thoughts inspired by a loved one’s gambling problem. The important thing to know is that you are not alone, and help and hope are available!
- Contact the 888-ADMIT-IT Problem Gambling HelpLine and get connected to powerful and free resources specifically for loved ones, such as: self-help literature like the FCCG’s A Chance for Change Workbooks Series for Loved Ones, self-help support groups like Gam-Anon, financial resources, legal resources, emergency/crisis resources, and many more.
- Avoid isolation by seeking out family, friends, or self-help support groups and recovery networks, such as a Gam-Anon.
- Focus on positivity and positive self-talk.
- Take time to exercise regularly: a 20-minute walk can have significant benefits.
- Practice gratitude by reminding yourself about the things for which you are grateful.
- Stay in touch with your thoughts and feelings. Don’t allow yourself to “numb out.”
If you are in Florida and impacted by a loved one’s gambling, call or text the 24/7, Confidential, and Multilingual 888-ADMIT-IT HelpLine, or open a live chat here on gamblinghelp.org to get connected with a Specialist today.