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Problem Gambling: How to Help a Struggling Loved One

March 1, 2023
byTJ824 views

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Like most things, problem gambling occurs when someone makes excessive and risky gambling behaviors. It can cause emotional and financial distress to individuals who cannot control their compulsive gambling habits.

However, this problem gets more complicated when personal relationships enter the equation. Families and friends naturally concerned with a problem gambler’s actions will want the affected individual to spend their time with more meaningful and productive activities.

The tension between a problematic gambler who doesn’t want to quit and their loved ones can result in irreparable tears in their relationship. Alienation and isolation are possible results for problem gamblers who don’t sort the issue out with the family.

This OKBET piece aims to identify how problem gambling can cause divides between a gambler and their loved ones. It will also point out how a problem gambler’s family and friends can help their loved ones address their problematic habit.

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How Problem Gambling Can Affect Relationships

Irresponsible gambling habits first affect the person’s finances. If the problem gambler is the family’s primary or sole breadwinner, the addiction’s impact can be immediately felt.

The problem can start with the problem gambler failing to pay some of their monthly dues. However, it can quickly escalate to the person deep in debt without the gambler’s partner or family knowing.

According to a study by Louise Holdsworth and her colleagues that was published in the Asian Journal of Gambling Issues and Public Health, partners of these problem gamblers usually don’t find out about these issues until it becomes too big of a problem to handle. Due to these financial constraints, the household typically has to burn through their life savings or resort to working extended hours to make ends meet.

Friends of the problem gambler can also experience this problem. Problem gamblers often borrow money from friends without explaining why they need it. They then fail to find the resources to pay these debts when their friends ask for their money back.

Uncontrolled gambling habits also negatively impact the emotional well-being of friends and loved ones. The study of Holdsworth and her colleagues reveals that partners of problem gamblers suffer emotional distress from their partners’ gambling issues. 

One of the partners interviewed for the study admitted crying at night and at her place of work due to the stress problem gambling caused. Fear also gripped some of the respondents due to the sudden instability they were facing.

How Should Family and Friends Address Problem Gambling?

There’s one thing we should be clear about this issue: problem gambling should be addressed quickly and directly. There should be no room for tolerance toward problematic gambling behaviors.

One of the most challenging parts of dealing with a problem gambler is identifying that there’s a problem in the first place. Your suspicion is already smoke to the fire, but the following video will provide supplementary information on what to look for in problem gamblers:

Once you figure out that they have problem gambling tendencies, you can use the following steps to help them get out of their destructive habit.

Don’t Blame Yourself

It can be easy to play the blame game with yourself for not noticing the signs sooner. You may think that you should have seen the signs sooner. You could also question yourself if you lacked at certain aspects that your loved one had to turn to gambling to sort their emotions.

However, it’s important for you to understand that it was their decision to gamble. Do not beat yourself up over your loved one’s decision to engage in problematic gambling habits.

Seek Help

Partners, family members, and friends who find out about a loved one’s gambling addiction should never try to tackle the problem alone. They should try to find professional help to address the issue properly.

Moreover, handling a person struggling with problem gambling alone is a terrible way of fixing the issue. You may cause further strain on your relationship rather than help them overcome their habit.

Moreover, find a support system for your loved one and yourself. Problem gambling is a problem faced by more people than you imagine. You will find support systems that can help you through your struggles if you reach out. 

Hold an Intervention

Aside from getting professional help, have concerned family members and friends hold an intervention for the person in question. Letting the person know that you care for the person to intervene with their destructive behavior directly will be appreciated in the long run.

Support and consistent documentation are critical for successful interventions. Make the person feel you are on the journey with them and want them to improve.

Maintain Consistent and Honest Communication

One of the best ways to deal with problem gambling is maintaining constant and open communication lines with the struggling individual. A major reason to their gambling habits reaching this point is the lack of communication between the individual and their family and friends.

It’s vital that you constantly talk to your loved ones to know how they’re feeling and better understand the situation from their point of view. Having an open ear without prejudice is important in helping them recover.

Be Patient

Compulsive gambling is a habit that cannot be stopped overnight. Like most addictions, it needs time for the affected person to fully conquer their problematic habits.

Make sure that you extend your patience as much as possible regarding their gambling behavior. Give them plenty of leeways as long as they are transparent with their problems.

Face Problem Gambling Head On

The issue of problem gambling, while solvable alone, can be addressed best by a community. Letting the person with disruptive gambling tendencies feel cared for is one of the best ways to address the issue head-on.

Of course, it’s also crucial that you take care of yourself. Problem gambling can be exhausting if you try to solve it by yourself. You will find a great ending to this saga as long as you come into this with the best intentions.

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