Living With a Problem Gambler

Are you living with a compulsive gambler?

If there is a gambling problem in your home, the Gam-Anon family group may be able to help you cope with it. If you are living with a compulsive gambler, you will answer “Yes” to at least six of the following questions.

  1. Do you find yourself constantly bothered by bill collectors?
  2. Is the person in question often away from home for long, unexplained periods of time?
  3. Does this person ever lose time from work due to gambling?
  4. Do you feel that this person cannot be trusted with money?
  5. Does the person in question faithfully promise that he or she will stop gambling; beg, plead for another chance, yet gamble again and again?
  6. Does this person ever gamble longer than he or she intended to, until the last dollar is gone?
  7. Does this person immediately return to gamble to try to recover losses, or to win more?
  8. Does this person ever gamble to get money to solve financial difficulties or have unrealistic expectations that gambling will bring the family material comfort and wealth?
  9. Does this person borrow money to gamble with or pay gambling debts?
  10. Has this person’s reputation ever suffered due to gambling, even to the extent of committing illegal acts to finance gambling?
  11. Have you come to the point of hiding money needed for living expenses, knowing that you and the rest of the family may go without food or clothing if you do not?
  12. Do you search this person’s clothing or go through his or her wallet when the opportunity presents itself, or otherwise check on his/her activities?
  13. Does the person in question hide his or her money?
  14. Have you noticed a personality change in the gambler as his or her gambling progresses?
  15. Does the person in question consistently lie to cover up or deny his or her gambling activities?
  16. Does this person use guilt induction as a method of shifting responsibilities for his or her gambling on you?
  17. Do you attempt to anticipate this person’s mood, or try to control his or her life?
  18. Does this person ever suffer from remorse or depression due to gambling, sometimes to the point of self-destruction?
  19. Has the gambling ever brought you to the point of threatening to break up the family unit?
  20. Do you feel that your life together is a nightmare?

What is Gam-Anon?

Gam-Anon is a fellowship of men and women who have been affected by the gambling problem. It is founded on spiritual principles.

Why do we have Gam-Anon? Men and women who have been affected by the gambling problem have found living with the gambler can be a devastating experience.

What do we accomplish in Gam-Anon? We attempt to find the answers to such questions as:

  • What is my role as the spouse (parent, loved one) of a compulsive gambler?

  • How can I be of the greatest help to the person who joins Gamblers Anonymous?

  • If my gambler continues to gamble, how can I live with this problem?

  • How can I learn to accept and understand God’s will for me?

If you are interested in finding the answer to questions such as these, Gam-Anon is for you!

Information provide by Gam-Anon International Service Office, Inc.

Effects of Compulsive Gambling on the Spouse

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Denial Phase

  • Occasional worries
  • Makes excuses for gambling
  • Keep concerns to self
  • Accepts increased gambling
  • Considers gambling temporary
  • Easily reassured
  • Questions unpaid bills
  • Accepts remorse of gambler

Growing Phase

  • Relaxed
  • Sense of achievement
  • Sharing
  • Closeness within family
  • Sacrificing for others
  • Helping others
  • More affectionate and trusting
  • Meets own needs
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Stress Phase

  • Arguments
  • Spouse spends less time with family
  • Demands upon gambler
  • Spouse feels rejected
  • Provides bailouts
  • Attempts to control gambling
  • Isolation
  • Avoids children, family and friends

Rebuilding Phase

  • Communications improved
  • Problem solving
  • Understanding others
  • Closeness within family
  • Recognizes self needs
  • Increased self-esteem
  • Making decisions
  • Realistic planning
  • Deals with resentment
  • Self-confidence returns
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Exhaustion Phase

  • Confusion
  • Intense resentment
  • Physical symptoms
  • Thinking impaired
  • Rage
  • Immobilization
  • Anxiety – panic
  • Doubts sanity

Critical Phase

  • Realistic personal inventory
  • Guilt diminishes
  • Accepts compulsive gambling as illness
  • Stops giving bailouts
  • Hopeful
  • Accepts friends again
  • Honest desire for help
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Mental Breakdown
Substance Abuse
Suicidal Thoughts & Attempts

Adapted from Arnie & Sheila Wexler Associates.