It has been estimated that for every gambling addict, there are up to ten family members and friends who are also impacted by the sufferer’s issues. The effects can range from the problem gambler spending less time with their loved ones and finding themselves arguing about finances with their partner, to lying to family and friends and even stealing from them to fund their addiction.
A problem gambler deep in the throes of addiction can find it nearly impossible to tear themselves away from it. This can lead to tension in a relationship, along with a breakdown in trust if the addict is lying about their whereabouts, hiding financial problems or failing to turn up for pre-planned events.
The partner at home could find themselves having to perform extra duties, including household bill management and childcare, due to the absence of the gambler. Children can also be affected by the stress of the situation within the household and by being constantly let down by a parent who prioritises gambling instead of spending time with their family. Some problem gamblers may isolate themselves from their loved ones and friends or find it hard to communicate with them, making it even more difficult to start addressing their gambling issues.
Gambling debts can mean that utilities can be cut off, bailiffs can be sent to recover items, or a home could be in danger of being repossessed, which can sometimes come out of the blue if the addict has been hiding their problem from their partner or other family members.
Other reported impacts on the relatives of problem gamblers include anger and violence from the addict as well as family members displaying a tendency towards developing gambling issues or other addictions in the future. Living with someone with gambling problems has been linked to feelings of anxiety, depression, resentment and hopelessness in family members.
Ultimately, it is not just the gambler who suffers the consequences of a gambling addiction; those around them feel the damage it causes as well.
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