Help for Families and Friends

Just as the problem gambler goes through phases, so do family and friends. At first, they are easily reassured that the gambling is OK. Family and friends may make excuses for the gambling behavior, perhaps having some occasional worries. Then the bills begin to pile up and the arguments increase. Family and friends may bail-out the problem gambler, believing that it will be the last time for borrowing money. However, the financial problems do not go away and the resentments build. Anxiety and panic set in.

Family and friends can learn ways to make changes in their lives through support. They can start by attending counseling and/or Gam-Anon.

  • Not blame themselves for the problem, but take responsibility for their own lives
  • Distance themselves from the problem behavior
  • Restore normal life routines
  • Confront and cease enabling behaviors
  • Reinforce appropriate actions for recovery
Are You Living With a Compulsive Gambler?
Gam-Anon 20 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 gambling 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 to pay gambling debts?
  10. Has this person's reputation ever suffered due to gambling, even to the extend 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 and 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 upon you?
  17. Do you attempt to anticipate this person's moods, 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?
If you are living with a compulsive gambler, you will answer yes to at least six of the questions. Warning Signs A list of warning signs indicating a potential gambling problem. Problem Gambler Help Line Toll-free access to professional and confidential help. Gam-Anon Meetings Group support for family members of problem gamblers. Additional Links Helpful resources for family members and friends.

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