I have discovered a family member has a gambling problem


What can I do?

If you have discovered that someone in your family has developed a gambling addiction then you are probably feeling that you do not know which way to turn.  You are probably blaming yourself for not spotting the signs earlier and having sleepless nights worrying about whilst the gambler seems not to be worrying as much as you.

The compulsive gambler is selfish and whilst he/she is in the early stages of recovery they may show little or no regard for the family.  They have been living a selfish life not worrying about the damage they have caused so why would they automatically gain a conscience over night.  They need to be selfish and focus on their recovery but as a family so do you.  

It is important that during the very early stages of recovery you consider your own personal well-being.  Try not to make the gambling the only thing in your world.  It's really important that you do not let it consume you so try not to become too isolated from family and friends.  Whilst you may not want to share everything with everybody, do talk to people you feel you can trust.  It's surprising what comes out of the woodwork when you start to talk as you soon realise all families have problems.  Their's may not be gambling related but they may also be going through their own set of problems.

Look for opportunities for normality - simple things like a day out, going out for a meal with friends or trying to get away for a few days.  Try not to keep questioning the compulsive gambler and trying to catch them out by being one step ahead.  This will only add to your own stresses and anxieties.  Make sure you put as many barriers in place; take things one day at a time and remember the old saying 'time is the greatest healer'.

What next?

  • Visit the useful links page and do some research - become an expert
  • Put some barriers in place - Register with Gamstop and install Gamban on all devices as a precaution
  • Insist the compulsive gambler self excludes from all betting shops and casino shops in the immediate vicinity and surrounding areas 
  • Find your local Gam-Anon meeting (this is purely for families/friends of those affected by gambling)
  • Encourage the compulsive gambler to attend Gamblers Anonymous (GA) - they may not be ready immediately
  • Contact Breakeven - gambling specific counselling available for both the compulsive gambler and the family
  • Take control of all finances - contact Step Change, insist on receipts for everything.  Contact the bank to ensure no over the counter transactions are allowed and take away forms of ID so that no new accounts can be opened
  • Monitor the post being delivered to the home
  • Encourage the compulsive gambler to find other outlets to fill the void left by gambling.  Try to promote a positive lifestyle by going to the gym or eating healthily