Effects Of Problem Gambling On Families


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Gambling problems can be of great damage more than you’ll ever know. It will not only harm the gambler himself but worse, it can be of harm to his immediate family as well. And with this, the impact is even much pain.

Why Can’t They Stop Gambling?

The majority of the people with gambling addiction lost grasp of their money and time. As a result, many aspects of their lives deem to suffer because of their being irresponsible. Some of these people with gambling problems are in denial that the root cause of their problems in life is the gambling itself. Some tried to put to a stop on this addiction before but mostly failed. That is why they are not willing to change since they have this notion that they will still fail in the end. Yes,  “Families suffer terribly from gambling. They lose homes, the kids become depressed. This is not the worst case by any means.” says psychiatrist Dr. Henrietta Bowden-Jones.

Deep inside these people who are problem gamblers have that deep guilt in their hearts. They are very much aware of the effects of their actions on their loved ones and as well as to themselves. Most of these people get into a huge debt that in the end, they get in trouble with the lenders. They want to quit gambling, but the leisure, fun, and excitement it brings are too much just to let go.

Some would attempt to quit to keep the situation from their loved ones. However, it drove them more into the situation to the level wherein they could not give up already. They keep playing in the hope that they win big to cover their losses and when this happens, they will stop and rebuild their lives. But this notion very seldom happens. “Because gambling is known to trigger these addiction pathways, it is often considered to be a behavioral addiction – or behavior that can become compulsive over time, causing a lot of harm to people’s lives.” Hailey Shafir, LPCS, LCAS, CCS-I said. Therefore, it must be stopped.

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How Are The Families Affected?

Money Problems

Loss of financial control is the direct effect of gambling addiction. Brad Klontz, PsyD once said, “if you’re under significant financial strain, it’s associated with depression, anxiety, relationship conflicts, and a sense of loss of personal control.” Because of that urgency to gamble, unnecessary dispensing of money from personal money takes place. And then, later on, it will affect the family savings, investments, belongings, and even properties. Because of this, the families of the people with gambling problems feel betrayed, angry and even scared of the consequences of the situation they got into.

Emotional Isolation And Problems

The family of a person who gambles too much would feel confused, angry, betrayed, hurt and even ashamed. But the person involved in gambling would deny that his actions are causing problems.


Partners of the person who gambles would distance themselves from the person with the problem and the situation itself. They do this to protect themselves from the pain. People with the said problem tear away themselves from their social circle, friends, and acquaintances due to shame. Some friendships and relationships ended due to bad debts.

Physical And Mental Health

Because of the stress gambling can bring, the person in question and his family are on the verge of having some health problems. Mental health problems are also very much possible since the depression, anxiety and other emotional problems may take place.


Because of the consequences of gambling, families are thriving and trying to cope. One member would usually stand out and will get the family afloat during the situation. This member will take care of the responsibilities, keep the family together and keep the household running. But eventually, this family member will feel worn out or burned out.

Emotional And Physical Abuse

One common consequence of gambling in the family is the abuse in the emotional and physical aspects. If this ever happens, notify the authorities at once.

Impact on The Children

The children under the guardianship of a person with a gambling dilemma are also greatly affected by the situation. Emotional problems take place as most of them could feel that deep resentment and depression. Some would even blame themselves, and because of the negligence of the person that has gambling conditions, children are forced to take responsibilities into their shoulders. Responsibilities that should be executed by the person in question.

Children in this kind of situation are often caught between choosing which parent to go with, will have trust issues and get into so much trouble. Some kids would engage in something illegal or vices just to distract themselves from their problems. Below are some of the things children may get into:

  • Gambling
  • Use of drugs
  • Drinking alcohol
  • Breaking the law

If the situation reaches this point, it should then be instilled in these children’s minds that the family’s problem is not and will never their fault.

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Depression And Anxiety

Depression, stress, and anxiety are common emotions for people with problems with gambling. And because of this, the following may take place:

  • Lost interest with the usual routine
  • Feel irritable and down
  • Sleep pattern changes
  • Appetite changes
  • Weight problems
  • The feeling of hopelessness, and helplessness
  • Memory problems
  • Feeling guilty all the time
  • Thinking about the problems most of the time
  • No appetite for sex
  • Restlessness
  • Angry
  • Suicidal

If these signs and symptoms are present, seek professional help at once.

Suicide Risk

Suicide incidents are also found in families that are affected by gambling. Some think that this is their only way out of the situation.

Suicidal Thoughts? Things To Take Note

If you are having thoughts of committing suicide, here are the things you can do:

  • Call 911 immediately.
  • Stay away from objects that can be used to harm yourself.
  • Talk to someone about your feeling.
  • Call a local distress center for assistance.
  • Notify your doctor.
  • Stay away from drugs and alcohol.
  • Contact a gambling hotline in your locality.

What to do when a family member wants to commit suicide?

Indicators of suicidal person:

  • Changes in mood and appearance
  • Depressed and withdrawn
  • Giving away his prized possessions
  • Talks about suicidal plans
  • Makes final wishes

If this happens to a family member:

  • Take the act seriously
  • Stay calm
  • Let the person talk to you
  • Accept whatever he is saying
  • Ask about his suicidal plans
  • Remove anything that can be used to harm himself
  • Get professional help
  • Notify the doctor

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