Advice from Some Peers (Gam-Anon)


Accepting that addiction is a disease is one of the most challenging actions that the family members of a problem gambler are asked to undertake. For many who have never experienced an addiction first hand, it is a foreign concept which often leads to feelings of resentment, anger, fear and isolation.

If you are struggling with a loved one’s gambling addiction, you are not alone: millions of families have struggled with the same feelings you are experiencing now.

Gam-Anon is self-help fellowship of men and women who have been affected by the gambling of a loved one. If your spouse or loved one has a gambling addiction, members of Gam-Anon offer the following advice:

  • Accept and learn to live with the fact that problem gambling is an illness
  • To question or interrogate the gambler will serve no purpose. You are powerless over this situation. If the gambler has something they wish to hide, the truth cannot be forced from them
  • To nag the gambler about past losses or talk of what might have been if they hadn’t gambled will prove to be detrimental to their recovery as well as yours
  • The past is gone and you will not find peace of mind until you can accept it without resentment
  • The gambler, not their spouse, should be responsible for calling their creditors to make restitution
  • Experience has taught us that it is not helpful to borrow monies or co-sign notes to cover gambling debts, while the spouse is gambling or when they come into Gamblers Anonymous
  • It is not recommended that the spouse go to work specifically to cover gambling debts
  • Prudence tells us that problem gamblers are seldom able to handle family finances. Perhaps this condition will be altered as they progress into recovery
  • Discourage friends and relatives from lending the gambler money
  • Gamblers Anonymous is a program for the compulsive gambler, the spouse should not interfere
  • It may be well to encourage the gambler to go to the first few meetings, however after this, their activities must be left to them. To force the gambler to attend meetings is very apt to do more harm than good
  • The gambling debts were not incurred over a short period of time; therefore don’t be discouraged if they find it necessary to pay back small amounts of monies over an extended period. Normal family expenses come first
  • Recovery is a very slow process for the gambler. Give him your encouragement and have faith
  • Do take an honest inventory of your character defects and work on them
  • Come to Gam-Anon even though your spouse may continue to gamble. We understand your problem and if you have an honest desire we can help you through our program1

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