Dos And Don’ts For Partners Of Problem Gamblers

If your partner and loved one have a problem with gambling, it can be very difficult to know what to do. What’s going to help the situation, and what’s just going to make it worse? Here are some tips on how to stay strong while helping your partner.

DO:

  • Seek support. Build strong connections with loved ones and allies in your community, particularly people who have been through similar trials. In particular, Gam-Anon or another support group for the families of those with addiction problems can help you learn to communicate effectively, reduce your guilt and isolation, and build self-esteem.
  • Learn about the problem. Research the warning signs of addiction, the impact it can have, and the options available to help you and your partner.
  • Explain problem gambling to any children involved. Hoping to keep them ignorant of the situation will not work, and you need them to understand the situation so they grow up with a healthy attitude towards gambling and addiction.
  • Remind yourself why you love your partner. Think about their good qualities and why your partner’s recovery is important to you.
  • Take a deep breath before talking to your partner about gambling or the problems gambling has caused. Stay calm, think what you’re trying to say and try to be diplomatic rather than accusatory.
  • Make a distinction between your partner and his addiction. Be clear that it’s the gambling behavior and its consequences that are the problem, not your partner.
  • Make sure your partner understands that you need to seek help and counsel for you and any children involved, even if your partner is not seeking help themselves.
  • Understand that real recovery from an addiction isn’t immediate: it takes a great deal of time and effort.
  • Take responsibility for the bills and finances! Keep a close eye on all your accounts and account statements, check your credit score periodically, and don’t leave the responsibility to pay bills or deposit money to a partner with a gambling problem. If they refuse to cede control to you, do everything you can to separate and protect your personal finances.

    DON’T:

  • Lecture, nag, preach, or talk down to your partner.
  • Put yourself on a pedestal or act as if you’re superior to your partner.
  • Make empty threats or issue ultimatums you don’t follow through on.
  • Expect that if your partner has enough motivation or willpower, that he can just “decide to stop” and immediately recover.
  • Understand that most addicts cannot stop by themselves, and that it may take more than one try to successfully quit.
  • Expect that when your partner stops gambling, any related problems will go away or solve them.
  • Automatically pay the debts of your partner, lend them money or bail them out when they get into trouble.
  • Deny that a problem exists or make excuses for their behavior. Be honest and realistic about the situation to yourself, your loved ones and any children involved.

 

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