Supporting a loved one with problem gambling 

Watching a loved one struggle with gambling problems is extremely worrying. Here’s how to support them in lessening their addiction.

It’s heart-wrenching to watch a loved one struggle with problem gambling and it can lead to stress and anxiety for both of you. How can you support a loved one with problem gambling while also looking after your own wellbeing?  

Know the signs 

Knowing the signs of problem gambling is essential for supporting your loved one through their problem gambling issues. Signs of a gambling problem can include changes in mood, secretive behaviour and neglecting responsibilities. You might also spot financial issues, like having less money than they should, failing to pay bills, or borrowing money.  

Let them talk 

Approach the issue carefully. Accusing them of lying or hiding something may be received negatively, and they might further isolate themselves which will only make the problem worse. Be clear that you’re concerned about their gambling, but avoid using judgmental and accusatory language. Let them know that you’re there for them and will support them no matter what.  

Encourage them to seek help 

Gambling addiction is a big thing to try and tackle on your own. Like other addictions, it can be deep rooted and difficult to stop. That’s why seeking help from professional organisations is the best way to go about dealing with problem gambling, as they have the experience and tools to provide effective help. Take a look at the GamCare website [] together, and consider calling the National Gambling Helpline [] or using GamCare’s WhatsApp or web chat.  

Seek help for you too 

Supporting a loved one through a gambling addiction is a difficult thing that can be exhausting. You might be struggling with feeling angry, betrayed, or worried.  

Consider reaching out to a support network that’s specifically for families of gamblers, like GamFam []. They can point you in the direction of helpful resources, as well as giving you a safe space to talk about your worries with people who understand. You’ll be in a much better place to support your loved one if you’re feeling supported yourself. 

Set boundaries 

Setting boundaries can be difficult, but is often essential to minimise the impact of gambling on your life if your partner has a gambling problem. If you share finances, consider limiting access or blocking gambling transactions. Make sure all bills are paid as soon as possible after getting paid.  You may need to set up separate accounts so you can make sure they’re not using all money available for gambling.  

Do things that don’t revolve around gambling 

When you’re faced with a gambling problem, it’s natural that all your resources go on helping your loved one through it. But sometimes you’ll need a break from worrying about it, as will your partner, so try and do things together that don’t bring gambling to mind. Suggest positive activities that don’t involve gambling, like hobbies or socialising with friends.  

As well as giving you a break from worrying about gambling, it’ll also help to occupy gamblers and redirect their focus away from gambling.