Understanding Feelings and Emotions as a Loved One of a Problem Gambler

Do you have a friend, family member, or loved one who is experiencing problem gambling? If so, then you understand how devastating it can be not only financially, but emotionally, because you are also experiencing the negative impacts of problem gambling yourself. Calling or texting 888-ADMIT-IT is a great first step to finding better understanding of what is going on and what you can do for yourself while supporting the compulsive gambler.

Each case of problem gambling takes a toll on an average of 8-10 people besides the gambler. As a loved one of someone who is suffering from gambling addiction, one of the biggest challenges is balancing your desire to support that individual while also caring for yourself. Did you know that the 888-ADMIT-IT HelpLine offers full service and resources specifically for loved ones as well? You are not alone with these feelings and emotions that can take over your life. Living with the impacts of gambling addiction is very similar to living with drug or alcohol addiction. Two of the biggest differences are that problem gambling is a hidden addiction you can’t see or smell and the speed with which it can devastate all parts of you and your life.

The Increasing Impacts of Problem Gambling on Loves Ones

HelpLine data shows increases in personal mental health and domestic issues experienced by loved ones of problem gamblers in Florida, with sixty-seven percent (67%) reporting feelings of anxiety and almost half (49%) acknowledging periods of depression due to the presence of a gambling problem in their lives. When asked, the overwhelming majority (90%) of loved ones said there was family conflict present, more than half (60%) advised they felt neglected, and 10% reported some level of family violence in the home due to gambling, reflecting substantial increases in all areas when compared to the previous year’s data, and remaining a major concern.1

Quite often in the beginning stages of dealing with a compulsive gambler in your home or otherwise would be denial that there is a problem, including from you as the loved one. Even while experiencing anxiety, depression, shock, betrayal, guilt, resentment, and other powerful emotions, loved ones may use denial as a coping mechanism so as not to cause conflict in the relationship and attempt to maintain a balance for others in the home, like children or elders who are not aware of the issue.

Anger is not a feeling – it is a behavior in reaction to underlying emotions. Anger blocks the awareness of pain, discharges uncomfortable feelings, erases guilt, and places the blame for problems on others.

Though you may feel inclined to put your needs aside and possibly lie to cover up for the problem gambler,this will inevitably lead to more stress, burn out, and health issues of your own – all the while, the gambler is being enabled and sees no reason to change. You must take care of yourself first by asking for help – and stop trying keeping the secret. Once you get help and have more information on what is going on, then it can become you and the problem gambler fighting against the addiction, instead of each other.

Here are four steps that will help you going forward:

  1. Identify Your Feelings
  2. Realize There are Four Ways to Express Yourself:
    • Passive Way
    • Passive Aggressive Way
    • Aggressive Way
    • Assertive Way
  3. Understand Your Anger and How It is Manifesting Itself
  4. Use Assertive Thinking and Behaviors With “I” Statements:
    • I have the right to ask for what I want and need.
    • I have the right to say NO.
    • I have the right to express all of MY feelings; positive or negative.
    • I have the right to make mistakes and not be perfect.
    • I have the right to follow my own values, beliefs, and standards.
    • I have the right to not be responsible for other’s behavior, actions, feelings, or problems.
    • I have the right to be angry at someone I love.
    • I have the right to be in a non-abusive environment.
    • I have the right to be treated with dignity and respect.
    • I have the right to have my needs and wants respected by others.

Get Started Right Now with the 888-ADMIT-IT HelpLine

Confidential and multilingual help and hope for problem gambling is available 24/7 in Florida – for loved ones too! Call or text the 888-ADMIT-IT HelpLine to have a safe and knowledgeable talk with Specialists who will refer you to the resources proven to make a difference to loved ones of problem gamblers, including professional counseling from certified treatment providers, self-help support groups, self-help literature, and so much more. The HelpLine can also be reached through live chat at gamblinghelp.org, by email to [email protected], through the 888-ADMIT-IT mobile app, and by connecting with the FCCG on social media.

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