Are you familiar with someone who is struggling with gambling addiction? If so, you understand the devastating effects it can have, not just financially but also emotionally, as you are also experiencing the negative impacts of compulsive gambling. Calling or texting 888-ADMIT-IT is a critical first step in understanding what is happening and what you can do for yourself while supporting the compulsive gambler.
Each case of problematic gambling affects an average of 8-10 people in addition to the gambler. As the loved one of someone suffering from gambling addiction, one of the biggest challenges is balancing your desire to support that person while taking care of yourself. Did you know that the 888-ADMIT-IT Helpline offers comprehensive services and resources specifically for loved ones? You are not alone in these feelings and emotions that can take over your life.
Living with the impacts of gambling addiction is very similar to living with drug or alcohol addiction. Two of the biggest differences are that problematic gambling is a hidden addiction that you can’t see or smell, and the speed with which it can devastate all aspects of your life.
The data from the Helpline shows an increase in personal mental health issues and domestic problems experienced by loved ones of problem gamblers in Florida. 67% reported feelings of anxiety and nearly half (49%) acknowledged periods of depression due to the presence of a gambling problem in their lives. When asked, the overwhelming majority (90%) of loved ones said there was family conflict present, with more than half (60%) advising that they felt neglected and 10% reporting some level of domestic violence due to gambling, reflecting substantial increases in all areas compared to the previous year’s data and remaining a major concern.
In the early stages of dealing with a compulsive gambler at home or elsewhere, denial of the problem is often experienced, including by you as a loved one. Despite experiencing anxiety, depression, shock, betrayal, guilt, resentment, and other powerful emotions, loved ones may use denial as a coping mechanism to avoid conflicts in the relationship and to try to maintain balance for other people in the home, such as children or elderly individuals who are not aware of the problem.
Although you may feel inclined to put your needs aside and possibly lie to cover for the compulsive gambler, this will inevitably lead to more stress, exhaustion, and health problems of your own, while the gambler is being enabled and sees no reason to change. You must take care of yourself first by seeking help and stopping trying to keep the secret.
Here are four steps that will help you in the future:
– Identify your feelings
– Recognize that there are four ways to express yourself: Passive, Passive-Aggressive, Aggressive, Assertive
– Understand your anger and how it manifests
– Use assertive thinking and behavior with affirmations such as “I have the right to ask for what I want and need,” and “I have the right to say NO.”
Start now with the confidential and multilingual help for compulsive gambling, available 24/7 in Florida, also for loved ones. Call or text the 888-ADMIT-IT Helpline for a safe and knowledgeable conversation with specialists who will refer you to resources that make a difference for loved ones of problem gamblers, including professional counseling from certified treatment providers, self-help support groups, self-help literature, and much more. The Helpline can also be contacted via live chat on gamblinghelp.org, by emailing email@example.com, through the 888-ADMIT-IT mobile app, and by connecting with the FCCG on social media.