Partner

For many, gambling is a recreation. For some, however, it can become a debilitating problem. When the decision to play games for money becomes an impulsive need, friendships, jobs and even marriages may be threatened. If you suspect your partner has a gambling problem, it is important to understand a few basic facts:

  • Most people gamble without risk of a disorder, but for some, problem gambling can quickly spiral out of control.
  • Problem gambling is not the result of boredom, weakness or irresponsibility, but rather a pathological problem often with dire financial and personal consequences.
  • The desire to help a loved one with a gambling problem can manifest itself through arguments, guilt and pleading, but professional treatment is the best way to lasting change.


Signs and Symptoms

Problem gambling can be addressed early if you recognize the signs. These can range from continually late or missed bills, unexplained withdrawals from bank accounts, a sudden need for secrecy, or random disappearances at odd and inconsistent times. Often, such symptoms are even mistaken as evidence of extramarital relationships. The point is no one knows your partner better than you. If something seems unusual, it deserves your attention.

Where can you get help for someone you care about?

One of the best ways to assist someone struggling with a gambling problem is to know the resources available to you. The following resources are available when reaching out to a spouse/significant other who has a gambling problem:

Minnesota’s Problem Gambling Program

  • There are State funds available for treatment services to Minnesota residents who meet the clinical diagnosis for compulsive gambling and demonstrate financial need.
  • State-approved treatment providers can be found at www.nojudgement.com and are listed by county, city, and provider.
  • Call Minnesota’s 24-hour, toll-free, confidential helpline at 1-800-333-HOPE or text HOPE to 61222.
Resources

One of the best ways to assist someone struggling with a gambling problem is to know the resources available to you. The following resources are available:

Minnesota Problem Gambling Program

  • There are State funds available for treatment services to Minnesota residents who meet the clinical diagnosis for compulsive gambling and demonstrate financial need.
  • State-approved treatment providers can be found at nojudgement.com and are listed by county, city. and provider.
  • Call Minnesota’s 24-hour, toll-free, confidential help line at 1-800-333-HOPE or text HOPE to 61222.

Support Groups

GAMBLER ANONYMOUS

• Uses a 12-step recovery program

• Offers peer-led support groups

• A list of local meetings available by calling 1-800-333-HOPE

National problem gambling helpline

• Free, 24/7 availability

• Available at 1-800-522-4700

• Answers questions and provides resource information

GAM-Anon

• Peer-led support group for spouses, relatives or close friends

• Provides immediate support in a crisis

• List of local meetings available by calling 1-800-333-HOPE

What to say to a spouse with a gambling problem

Talking to someone about problem gambling is never easy. It is important to remind them that you truly care for their well-being. Be specific and direct about your concerns; try to listen without judgment. Above all, insist on professional help. Offer to make the call for them, if needed, and reassure them that you will offer your support as they go through recovery.

Having trouble starting a conversation?

Each situation is different. To help, please read the tips.

PDF: Tips for Talking to a Parent About Problem Gambling

Tell them you’re concerned.

Express to them how important your relationship with them is and that you want them to get help for their problem gambling.

Example: _________, I need to talk to you about something serious. I’ve noticed recently that you haven’t been your usual self, and I’m concerned. Your relationship with me is very important, and I don’t want anything to damage it. I want to know if we can talk about what might be going on?

Be specific about your concerns.

Talking about finances with a parent can be difficult because of family dynamics, particularly in relation to problem gambling. Tell them how their gambling negatively affects their relationship with you. Be specific and use examples.

Example: I’m concerned about the extent to which gambling has become a part of your life and how it’s affecting our relationship. You are a very important part of my life.

Don’t judge, instead listen.

If you want them to hear you out, you need to give them the same courtesy. Allow them to speak their mind, and let them know you heard what they have to say.

Example: __________, I hear what you have to say and want to help you find a solution before the situation becomes worse.

Say what you want them to do.

As the younger generation, you are in a unique position to help your parent receive the help and care they need. You need to intervene for the sake of their psychological, emotional and financial health. Ask them to seek counseling or enroll in a gambling recovery group.

Example: I’d like to help you find a way to fix this. I know of a 24-hour, confidential hotline you could call (800-333-HOPE) and a few gambling recovery programs. I’d like us to explore one of these services.

Offer to help; explain why you care.

Remember to explain how much you care about them and what you want them to do. By expressing your concern, you can clarify your feelings regarding their gambling and make them accountable for their addictive behavior. Be non-judgmental and offer to help.

Example: I want you to know that I am here to help in any way I can. I wouldn’t have come to you if you weren’t so important to me. If you need support, you have someone you can count on.

Keep the door open for future talks.

There is a difference between being aggressive and being firm. You can be direct without alienating your parent. If you engage them in a hostile way, they will most likely shut down and ignore your attempts to help. Handle the subject with care so they feel like you are a resource in their recovery.

Example: __________, you are a good parent. You’re human. Let’s deal with this together. Take it one step at a time.