People with a gambling problem are probably very aware of the impact it is having on their own lives – not having money, the feeling of loss of control, to name but a few. The area that is sometimes less obvious is the impact on people around the problem gambler. For parents it can be devastating to see a child become addicted to poker machines, not just for the waste of money but also the fear that they may end up harming themselves out of desperation. For friends it can confuse them why they are no longer getting calls or why money that was borrowed from them is not being returned. The impact can be greatest for the person’s partner when they see common money disappear into machines and at the TAB. At times the family home can even be placed at risk as debt increases.
The problems in relationships can seem to be a direct consequence of gambling but it can also sometimes make the gambling worse. As someone gambles heavily and the people around them start reacting by either getting angry or moving away from them, the gambler can feel increasingly isolated leading to an even greater escape into the world of gambling. The losses and the impact on their friends and family can also lead the gambler to gamble even more in the hope of winning back some of these losses and rectifying the problems their losses has created for others.
The impact of gambling on relationships is more complex than simply gambling creating problems for those around. It can sometimes be losses or problems in relationships than can drive someone to gamble in the first place. Either during a period of mourning or following conflict with those around them, a person may seek refuge in the world of poker machines and the TAB. It might provide them a temporary relief from the pain and frustration they feel.
When gambling affects those around the gambler, people will often eventually move away from the gambler, particularly those who are not bound by blood but rather choice such as partners and friends. When this happens, the gambler will often suffer a compounding problem, in addition to direct impact of the gambling – they will lose these important relationships.
Professional help in the form of counselling can help overcome an addiction to gambling and also deal with the breakdown of relationships that often accompanies gambling. Gambling Help can provide a list of counsellors the provide free sessions in your area.
Free, confidential and expert help and support is available any time by calling Gambling Help on 1800 858 858.