Gambling addiction is an impulsive disorder that affects many people. In America alone, over five million people are thought to be at risk. Not only can it be detrimental to one’s own mental health; it can destroy relationships.
Here are a few tips to help you approach your partner about their gambling addiction.
When negative consequences of the addiction are removed, you are enabling them.
Unfortunately, partners can do this by thinking they are helping, e.g. giving them smaller amounts to gamble with.
This is only reinforcing the bad behaviour and will lead to furthering the addiction. Here are several tips for family members to learn from.
- Do not encourage or show positive reactions to the gambling.
- Do not give any amount of money for gambling.
- Do not make excuses or cover up the addiction, i.e. covering for missed work or friends.
- Do not cooperate or control their behaviour. Some partners believe joining in on the gambling will allow them to control their partner’s actions. This only continues the cycle.
Once a gambling addiction has been recognised, you cannot trust the addict to manage their finances. Immediately separate accounts; especially savings with a large amount of money.
Work together to create a safe and secure method for the addict to control a small amount of finances. This can be done either by giving cash each week or transferring directly into their bank account. Monitoring is the key issue.
Separating finances may seem drastic, you will receive countless requests for money. Remember, paying your bills is more important than enabling your partner’s addiction. It’s about communication and working together to help them take control.
Learning about a partner’s addiction and managing the finances can be stress inducing.
Make sure that you seek support from others. This can be done from scheduling an appointment with a professional. Their expertise and experience allows them to understand your frustrations. They can easily take your venting and come up with some strategies to improve your mental health.
Seeking support doesn’t always have to be professional. Organising support from friends and family can improve your mood. There are support groups available if you wish to speak to a stranger.
Approximately 70 to 76 percent of gambling addicts suffer from depression. Mental health is a huge problem for those coming to terms with a gambling addiction. As their partner, you need to be firm in demonizing the addiction.
Professional help is always there.
Therapists such as those from New Vision Psychology are educated in how addiction can be helped and controlled. Rehabilitation centres can be an expensive option but also one of the most effective tools. Being away from any forms of gambling, in a controlled environment, for a length of time can break the addiction cycle.
Local support groups are often free and useful by setting participants with an accountability ‘buddy’. Speaking to others with the same problem can demonstrate to your partner that they are not alone.
If your partner is aware of their gambling problem and is committed to making a change, they may benefit from installing The Gambling Therapy app (available on iOS and Android). According to OPPO, 49 percent of people open an app more than 10 times a day so this self-awareness app can be beneficial.
It is not uncommon for partners of people with a gambling addiction to feel ashamed with their situation. This can lead to prolonged anxiety and stress. Remember that your health and wellbeing comes first.
Ask for help if the situation gets too difficult and if necessary, remove yourself from threatening environments.