Friends and Family
How do I respond to someone close to me (spouse, child, parent, friend etc.) who has gambling problems?
The friends and family members of those with gambling difficulties are often affected by the consequences of excessive gambling. Lobsinger & Beckett (1996) estimate that one problematic gambler will directly affect the lives of a further 8 to 10 people. Debts, loans, absenteeism, broken promises, withdrawal, low moods, stress or even illegal activities, violence and suicidal behaviour can arise as a result of excessive gambling. These, understandably affect the friends and family members of a player. Those close to a gambler can experience many feelings including anxiety, anger, doubt, helplessness and hopelessness. Unfortunately, friends and family members are unable to change the gambling behaviour. Change can only come from the player themself. However, certain attitudes tend to maintain and even increase the problem, while others appear to promote change:
As far as possible, it is best to avoid checking up on the player or attempting to control their behaviours. It is equally helpful not to find excuses or protect the gambler by minimising the consequences of their actions. Although they generally create a positive feeling, these behaviours take responsibility away from the player. Furthermore, they do not encourage the gambler to question their actions. A more helpful approach is to calmly explain the impact that gambling has upon you. This leaves the player to face the responsibility of their actions, as far as possible. In addition, it is important for friends and family members who are affected to re-establish a balance within their own lives. They should not hesitate to put in place measures to protect their money from being spent on gambling, if necessary.