Older Adults & Gambling

Family Issues

Problem gambling adversely affects the family of the gambler in a number of ways because of the problem gambler's altered behavior, dishonesty and manipulation.

What can be lost or damaged:

  • Trust is often the first casualty in the family of the problem gambler. Change in the behavior of the family member is often attributed to many other possible problems before gambling is identified as the problem.
  • Respect for the problem gambler is generally lost once this problem has been identified. “Why can’t you just stop so the problem will go away?” “You can fix this!” When the gambler can’t, respect for them is lost.
  • Relationships are built on trust and respect. Without these, family relationships will be weakened or destroyed.
  • Family Dynamic is dependent on each family member meeting the needs of the others. Problem gambling can destroy the ability of the gambler to do this.
  • Employment can be affected in various ways. The gambler will often neglect responsibilities at work and/or develop an attendance problem as they begin to have less control over their need to gamble. In the worst
    situation, the gambler will steal from their employer in order to continue their gambling. Any of this can lead to loss of employment and prosecution.
  • Financial security for the family is often lost as the gambler seeks more and more resources with which to gamble. All of the family’s financial resources may be liquidated without their knowledge. Savings, home
    equity, retirement accounts, children’s savings, etc may all be lost or damaged.
  • Reputations are difficult to protect as the gambling problem affects more and more aspects of the gambler’s life and become known by individuals outside of the family.

What can result:

  • Stress is a certain occurrence for all of the family members of the gambler.
  • Isolation between the gambler and their family generally occurs as their behavior changes.
  • Neglect of dependents occurs as the gambler losses more and more control of their behavior.
  • Distrust occurs between other family members as the extent of the problem and the extent of financial loss and the ramifications of this become known.
  • Resentment/Anger also follows as the gambler loses control and the scope of the problem becomes known.
  • Domestic violence may result in a family affected by a member with an addiction problem. The family of a problem gambler can be impacted just as easily as that of someone with an alcohol or drug addiction. The
    problem gambler may be the victim or perpetrator.
  • Co-occurring disorders such as depression, substance abuse, and other compulsive behaviors often occur as a result of or along with the gambling problem.

Other Family Issues

  • Children of problem gamblers have a higher probability of developing a gambling problem than those with parents who do not gamble. This follows the pattern as experienced by children of those affected by substance and domestic violence.


If any of these signs sound like someone you know, that person may have a problem with gambling.

Call 1-800-522-4700

Help is confidential and it works.

Don’t wait for the problem to get worse!

 

Created Jan 2007

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