Gambling is an addiction that is dangerously easy to hide. Unlike alcohol or drug abuse, you might not necessarily know someone was a gambling addict on the surface. We see examples of gambling everywhere we look online and within the thousands of casinos in public spaces. Yet society still does not identify gambling addiction as chronic mental health issue that it is.
For those living with a partner who gambles, the story is very different. Couple finances and shared responsibilities are significantly affected in an economical sense. However, the emotional rollercoaster of addiction is even more significantly felt by those closest to the addict. The recovery process can be as difficult to navigate as the addiction itself.
So—how can partners of gambling addicts offer support in a way that protects them both? How can someone truly help their partner to free themselves from the grip of gambling addiction while taking care of their own health and wellbeing at the same time? With the appropriate tools in hand, freedom is entirely possible.
Here are 5 impactful steps you can start applying today:
- Learn about the illness. Addiction is a mental health issue, without doubt. It is not a singular choice that an individual has made at any given stage of their life. Typically, gambling addicts are hyper-aware of their condition and their behaviours. Many struggle with immense guilt for the impact it has upon their own lives and those they love. By learning more about the beast of addiction, the battle will be easier to form a unified front against it. Access online resources (as you are right this moment) that will equip you with the information you need to better tackle each stage of recovery. Attend group therapy sessions where appropriate with your partner to encourage them and to learn more about their experience. Learn about the psychology of addiction and it’s typical behaviours. Do what you can to empower yourself with the tools you need to overcome this situation as a team.
- Reassign spare time more positively. Moments of spare time can be extremely difficult to deal with for a gambling addict, especially when there are so many online gambling options ready and waiting to pull them back in. Dedicate some evenings and weekends to sharing quality time together away from temptation. Leave your smartphones at home and head out for a walk in the outdoors to rebalance your mental health and disconnect from negative influences. Starting a new venture together can also be a great way to discover fresh opportunities for the same buzz of accomplishment that was found within gambling yet in a much healthier context.
- Seek professional support. Perhaps your partner has already joined a support group. Maybe they are already seeing someone to help them deal with their addiction. This approach is a very positive step forwards for you both. But don’t forget that this process is indisputably a giant undertaking for you as well as your partner. Don’t be afraid to reach out for professional help from a therapist who can help you process the situation. It will offer you an outlet away from home which could improve your levels of reactivity when things become challenging at certain times. You deserve to enjoy good mental health just as much as your loved one does.
- Create non-judgemental space for each other. We rarely learn from a situation when we feel accused or attacked. When emotions reach a peak, it can be hard not to throw out statements borne from frustration against our partner. However, doing so will break even more trust between you than the addiction already has itself. Agree on a pact with your partner that you will always remain respectful of one another regardless of how tough it might get. Create an open listening environment where you both feel you can speak up without being interrupted or judged. Doing so will help your relationship to evolve and progress in the same way that it will benefit the overall recovery process.
- Take your time. Overcoming addiction is not instant, nor is it something that can be fixed up overnight. Deep healing occurs when plenty of time, love and energy is dedicated to the journey. Some days you might wonder if you’ll ever be free of the shadow of addiction. This is completely normal. But don’t lose sight of the fact that you will both eventually step beyond the trauma that gambling has caused in both of your lives. There is a whole world out there yet to be discovered by you both. There are people you’ve yet to meet and experiences to be enjoyed that you can’t even imagine yet. Gambling addiction and mental health issues do not define who you are – you do.
We all have mental health battles we must face as life unfolds. Some of us fall into the trap of seeking vices such as gambling in an honest attempt to cope. Gambling companies have huge teams of dedicated experts who are employed specifically to target vulnerable mindsets. Each game is set up to draw each user into a never-ending cycle of enticing momentary wins leading to perpetual ultimate losses.
It is certainly not the ‘fault’ of the addict that they are in the position they now find themselves caught up in. However, this certainly does not stop them from taking back control and making change to overcome their situation. With appropriate support, true healing is entirely possible. The personal freedom that sits just the other side of the recovery line will always be worth each and every step towards it.
Gambling ruined my life, and I was not the only one to suffer. There are hundreds of such people out there who have gone through the same trouble. My mission is to help them share their story so that they may get help in time.
Visit my website, https://gambling-addictions.com/ and share your story of recovery and be the motivation for thousands who fell prey to this addiction.