How to Help Yourself (Families)

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Gambling addiction is a disease which affects the gambler but can devastate the entire family. If there is a problem gambler in your family, don’t blame yourself for their problem.

You have a right to protect yourself – emotionally and financially – if your family has been or is being harmed by gambling addiction. The right support can help you maintain a balance between making positive choices for yourself while encouraging your loved one to get help – without losing yourself in the process.1

Don’t Go it Alone
Coping with a loved one’s gambling problem can be so overwhelming at times that it may feel easier to rationalize their requests and believe that it is “the last time.” You may also feel guilt, shame or isolation, believing that you are the only one experiencing problems like this.

But millions of families have struggled with the same problem. You are not alone.

A combination of the support of loved ones, a self-help group (such as Gam-Anon), or a therapist or counselor is often the best way to sort out the myriad of feelings you are experiencing.1

Set Boundaries for Managing Money
If your loved one is serious about getting help for their gambling addiction, consider the possibility of you taking over the family finances for a while. This will help them to remain accountable and limit the possibility of a relapse while they begin the recovery process.

Remember that taking control of the finances does not mean that you are responsible for micromanaging their impulses gamble. Your first responsibility is to ensure that your own finances and credit are not at risk.1

  • Seek professional help, both for financial advice and emotional support.2
  • Maintain a budget and keep track of money that is spent and owed2
  • Protect your assets. Consider the need to change your accounts (bank, credit cards, mortgage, etc.) or move assets so that the gambler cannot access them2
  • Do not give the gambler money, even to “rescue” them from problems – that will only enable them to gamble more and/or avoid accepting responsibility for their accounts.2

Consider how you will handle requests for money
Problem gamblers often become very good at asking for money, either directly or indirectly. They may use pleading, manipulation or even threats or blame to get it. It takes time and practice to learn how you will respond to these requests to ensure you are not enabling the problem gambler while keeping your own dignity intact.1

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